TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s attorney Eric M. George sent a letter to the entrepreneur Jennifer Allen yesterday, Arrington wrote on his blog. The letter says Allen has “posted statements about Michael that are false and defamatory, and that have caused significant harm to his good name.”
On March 29, Allen posted a claim on Facebook saying that Arrington had physically abused her. She then commented on a Gawker story about her post, saying Arrington raped her and another woman she knows as well.
Gawker reporter Adrian Chen followed that post on April 3 with a post that quotes various Arrington acquaintances opining about the allegations.
The fact is, among tech insiders, rumors that Arrington has been abusive towards women have circled for years. I personally know of two journalists who chased these rumors, to no avail. They ran into the same problem that is responsible for the silence of the tech blogosphere today: People are scared of Mike Arrington. He is an incredibly powerful player with an unpredictable mean streak and deep connections to most of the major tech media outlets. He’s an investor in former TechCrunch editor Sarah Lacy’s new start-up PandoDaily, and of course still a contributor at TechCrunch. Gabe Rivera launched tech news aggregator Techmeme, which functions as sort of the front page of the Silicon Valley and largely sets the pace of the news cycle, out of Arrington’s home. Unsurprisingly, news of the Arrington allegations have been missing from all three.
Another Chen post on April 5 said Arrington “was investigated for allegedly assaulting” a sales representative at a company called RealNames in 1999 and that he’d “roughed up” another entrepreneur, Meghan Asha, 10 years later. “The investigation concluded that there was no behavior to answer for,” RealNames’ former CEO Keith Teare told Gawker; Asha told TechCrunch “None of the claims made on my behalf over the past week are accurate. … Mike and I remain friends.”
“All of the allegations are completely untrue, and I’ve hired a law firm to represent me in the legal actions against the offending parties,” Arrington wrote on his blog April 7. Several others, including Rivera, also gave statements supporting him, Alexia Tsotsis wrote in TechCrunch.
The letter from Arrington’s attorney says “Your twice-repeated allegation of rape/physical abuse by Michael is not only false, but factually impossible.” Arrington and Allen were in different locales on the date Allen says the assault occurred, George writes. Allen contacted Arrington repeatedly after the alleged incident, George writes, including a communication asking him to invest in a startup and another “proffering extensive advice about how he ought to landscape his property.”
Allen contributed to her account about the alleged incident on her Twitter account Thursday night.
Michael Arrington is a pathological liar, text next to pictures false storyteller. He’s destroying the lives of women in tech around us.
— Jenn Allen (@JennAllen) April 12, 2013