After keeping relatively quiet for the past two weeks, TechCrunch founder and Silicon Valley kingmaker Mike Arrington issued an exhaustive rebuttal on his blog yesterday to his ex-girlfriend Jenn Allen's public claims that he raped and physically abused her. Arrington's pushback against Allen comes as Gawker has uncovered more detail on allegations that he assaulted another ex-girlfriend, Meghan Asha—including corroboration from Asha's friend and former partner, Julia Allison.
In the wake of Allen's online accusations against Mike Arrington earlier this month, Gawker learned that he had a spotty repuation when it comes to his treatment of women. Specifically, we reported two instances in which Arrington had been accused of violent and abusive behavior toward ex-girlfriends.
One of those instances involved a claim that Arrington had thrown his then-girlfriend Meghan Asha against a wall in 2009. After our report was published, Asha issued a vague statement through TechCrunch that did not specifically reference the Gawker report or address any of its particulars. It simply stated that "none of the claims made on [her] behalf over the past week are accurate" and that she remains friends with Arrington.
Now we can report that Asha's close friend Julia Allison has privately maintained that the incident happened as we reported it, that she "was there" when it happened, and that she won't elaborate because, she told Gawker, she is frightened of Arrington. As we previously reported, during a late-night phone call in 2009, a close friend of Asha's told the entrepreneur and former Arrington business partner Jason Calacanis that Arrington had thrown Asha against a wall. Numerous sources confirmed to us that friend was Allison, the well-known tech personality and fameball, who is a longtime friend of Asha's. Asha was a founding member of Juila Allison's tech lifestyle start-up Nonsociety.com, in 2008.
Despite Asha's statement, Allison insists in private that the incident did happen, according to a text message conversation we've obtained.
"I don't know why Meghan said it wasn't true because it WAS," Allison wrote in a text on April 9, three days after Asha released her statement. "I know because I was there. But I bet [Arrington's] threatening her."
She continued: "He abused her and many others. That isn't in question."
When asked about the text messages, Allison confirmed their authenticity but declined to elaborate. "It's not my place and it wasn't my relationship," she told Gawker. "And I don't feel safe messing with Arrington."
Arrington's rebuttal, published yesterday in the form of a letter from his attorney, Eric M. George, to Allen, does not address any of Gawker's reporting. It is limited to claims Allen has made directly via Facebook or in comments on Gawker posts. While the rebuttal doesn't categorically prove or disprove anything, Arrington's attorney provided documentary evidence that Allen had continued to communicate with Arrington—emailing photographs, offering landscaping advice, inviting him to a wedding, and soliciting start-up capital—after he allegedly raped her.
In an April 1, 2013, comment on a Gawker post, Allen claimed to have been assaulted by Arrington on March 5, 2012. George's rebuttal says that claim is provably false because Arrington was in Washington and Allen was in California at the time. George claims to have—but did not release—credit card receipts and travel records proving Arrington was in Washington on March 5. He appended a Facebook post showing Allen out with friends at a bar in San Francisco early in the morning of March 6th. (On Twitter last night, Allen revised her claim, saying the incident occurred at a San Francisco hotel on the early morning of "the first Friday of March 2012," which would have been March 2.)
The letter also includes a number of emails from Allen suggesting she kept in friendly contact with Arrington long after the alleged rape, including alluring pictures she sent him with the subject line "For You Only," and a request that he invest in her startup, Rtist.com.
In another comment on Gawker, which Arrington's lawyer attributed to Allen (it was posted under a different user name than Allen had used in the past, and we have not been able to confirm this comment's authenticity), she laid out a story about how Arrington had gone to court for "sexual harassment and/or rape while at his first law firm" but had managed to get out of it because of a "Stanford connection" with the judge. (Arrington graduated from Stanford Law before becoming a partner at prestigious Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.) The lawyer said that there was not "any truth whatsoever to any element of this fantastical story involving a rape, a trial, connections with a judge, or anything else you have suggested in your posting."
George also claims Allen has a history of deceit when it comes to her relationship with Arrington. He claims that Allen faked being pregnant with Arrington's child and having an abortion in order to get him to talk with her.
The letter demands a retraction by Monday. If she doesn't retract, "you will have left us with no choice but to proceed with legal action against you."
Arrington has not responded to Gawker's repeated requests for comment on the allegations we have reported. Allen declined to comment.
Update From Gawker Editor John Cook: Arrington has responded on his blog by posting what he purports to be texts from Allison to Asha that...dispute the story? After quoting our account, Arrington writes, "compare this to text messages that Julia Allison has sent to Meghan Asha over the last few days." He then posted the following texts:
You might call this an inadvertent admission against interest. A few points are worth emphasizing: First, Allison expresses surprise at Asha's statement, which, though it did not address any reporting specifically, vaguely dismissed "claims made on [her] behalf " as inaccurate. It is unclear why Allison would be surprised—"Did you really say that? Life is weird"—at Asha's statement if that statement accorded with Allison's view of events. It would presumably not be "weird" for Asha to issue an accurate statement.
Second, Allison describes our inquiries to her thusly: "They say Jason [Calacanis] told them that I told him years ago what happened with Mike." (Calacanis did not in fact tell us anything aside from the fact that he had a phone conversation with Allison one night at a party; others described that conversation to us as Allison telling Calacanis that Arrington had pushed Asha into a wall.) Allison's reference to "what happened with Mike" strikes us as a reference to a specific incident.
Third, Allison tells Asha that, if we were to attach her name to the story, "I will deny." The contingent nature of that statement—if it comes out, I will deny it—does not strike us as the sort of thing someone would say if they were texting a friend about a reporter who is pursuing an inaccurate story. Likewise, Allison's final query to Asha—"What should I do???"—does not strike us as the sort of question one would ask a friend if one were trying to decide whether to truthfully deny a claim about that friend being assaulted.
Allison appears to be a woman of her word. In a comment to this post, she is indeed denying any knowledge about Arrington's alleged abuse of Asha:
I have been harassed by no less than seven reporters about these incidents, including Gawker's writers, including Adrian Chen. To ALL of them I said I was not willing to comment. I NEVER witnessed any physical abuse, and I don't know why Gawker is alleging I did. I don't know what happened between Meghan Asha and Michael Arrington, and I never will.
It is never okay to abuse anyone, but it is ALSO not okay to report stories when your "evidence" is shoddy and/or made up. Gawker has "reported" stories using absolute crap before, and they have no conscience whatsoever about doing so.
I have moved away from New York, I got my life back, I am happy now, I have moved on. I told Gawker to leave me alone and leave me out of this. Why am I not surprised they didn't respect me enough to do so?
Allison's comment, which calls into question our reporting and suggests that our evidence was "shoddy and/or made up," leaves us little choice but to reveal one source of our information. We don't like to burn sources. And simply offering a blanket denial of a story we reported wouldn't normally justify such an action. But when one of our sources provides us information and then publicly attacks the reporting based on that information as "made up," there's not much we can do. Below is a screengrab of a text-message conversation reporter Adrian Chen had with Allison. When he initiated the conversation, Chen had not agreed to any restrictions on how he could use or attribute the information Allison provided. In it—immediately before Chen agreed to treat the conversation as off the record—Allison told Chen that "Arrington threw Meghan against a wall." She also told him that "he is bipolar but won't take his meds," that he was "verbally abusive for years," and that he "would kick Meghan out of the car and leave her on the side of the road in foreign countries."
And while we're all posting screengrabs of text messages, below is a screengrab of Allison telling an associate that, as we reported above, she "was there" during the alleged abuse, and that she doesn't "know why Meghan said it wasn't true because it WAS."
In a phone call with Gawker, Allison insisted that she has never witnessed any abuse by Arrington, and that she would continue to publicly deny telling Chen that Arrington had thrown Asha into a wall.