Several days ago we were the first to ponder the question whether Nikola founder Trevor Milton had abruptly resigned from his position as Executive Chairman of the company as a result of imminent #MeToo claims, not just due to allegations raised about the company’s business practices raised by Hindenburg Research. It now looks like that could indeed be the case.
On Monday evening, CNBC posted a lengthy article detailing allegations of “sexual abuse” against Milton, by two women who have now filed complaints. One of the two allegations had never been reported on in the past. The new allegation involves a woman who is now 32 years old and is a lawyer, who alleged that Milton “digitally penetrated” her in 2004, when she worked for Milton, who was 22 while she was 15.
“I kind of put that whole scenario of memory in a dark place, locked it up and tried to just forget about it,” the victim told CNBC. “He was in a position of power and he would give me a ride home from that job and this happened at the end of one of the days that I worked there and I was somewhat at his mercy because I couldn’t even go home until he was going to give me a ride home.”
A former friend of Milton’s claims that he remembered Milton bragging about the incident. “He told me he fingered her. He kept going on, saying I like young girls and I like virgins because they are naive,” Milton’s former friend, Tyler Winona, said.
Trevor Milton’s spokesperson said he “strongly denies” the “false allegations” and said that “at no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone.”
Recall, about a week ago, a first woman’s claims were reported by The Wall Street Journal after Milton’s first cousin, Aubrey Smith, took to Twitter to allege sexual assault that took place in 1999:
On Monday, new allegations about Mr. Milton’s conduct emerged when a woman accused him on Twitter of sexually assaulting her when the two were younger.
Aubrey Smith, who says she is Mr. Milton’s first cousin, claimed in a series of tweets that he inappropriately touched her when she was 15 and visiting Utah for their grandfather’s funeral in September 1999. She says Mr. Milton was 18 years old at the time.
When reached by phone, Ms. Smith confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that she had made the posts on Twitter and said she wanted to go public now as other questions about Mr. Milton’s conduct have surfaced. Another family member also confirmed Mr. Milton is her cousin.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with two people who said that Ms. Smith told them about the alleged incident months afterward.
Seemingly corroborating the first woman’s claims, the CNBC story pointed out that while the #MeToo movement was in full force in 2017, Smith took to Facebook to make a post about the alleged assault. The post, now almost 3 years old, said: “When I was assaulted I was 15. I didn’t want to tell anyone, because I figured I should have known better” and that the person “only apologiz[ed] because he was my cousin.”
Both women filed formal complaints in Holladay, Utah, where the alleged assaults took place.
Meanwhile, in a series of Tweets posted late Monday night, Hindenburg Research lambasted the numerous people who are still involved with the Nikola story, including investment bank Cowen, “value investing legend” Jeff Ubben and former GM executive Steve Girsky – all of whom claimed to have done due diligence before working with Milton and Nikola.
“$NKLA’s brand has gone from tarnished to toxic,” they concluded, asking “Will GM put its 112-year brand at risk for $NKLA stock that will likely be worthless by the time $GM can sell, and for cash that likely won’t be there when it comes time to spend?”.
$NKLA‘s brand has gone from tarnished to toxic.
Mary Barra should answer: Will GM put its 112-year brand at risk for $NKLA stock that will likely be worthless by the time $GM can sell, and for cash that likely won’t be there when it comes time to spend? pic.twitter.com/l9TkMfTIB6
— Hindenburg Research (@HindenburgRes) September 29, 2020