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Hyperloop One co-founder Shervin Pishevar takes leave of absence after sexual assault allegations

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TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 - Day 3 Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar has taken a leave of absence from Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations, saying he plans to focus on pursuing a defamation lawsuit that he filed last month against a political opposition research group. Pishevar says that the decision is meant to “eliminate any potential distraction to the great and important work being done at these companies.”

Pishevar’s lawsuit claims that he was targeted for a “smear campaign” that fabricated false rumors about him, including one that said he had paid to settle a sexual assault accusation in London. Pishevar was indeed detained (but not charged) earlier this year in connection to a sexual assault. Reports by Forbes and Fast Company on the incident, however, also included details from an apparently forged police report. In his statement today, Pishevar says he hopes to “unearth who fabricated the fraudulent London ‘police report,’ and who is responsible for spreading false rumors about me.”

But this wasn’t the only allegation against Pishevar. Bloomberg recently reported that Pishevar had forcibly kissed, groped, or harassed five women, abusing his power as an investor in companies like Uber, where he once served on the board of directors. (Pishevar’s representatives said they were “confident that these anecdotes will be shown to be untrue.”) Two Democratic senators subsequently donated money that Pishevar had given them to charity, and he reportedly faced pressure to resign from the board of Hyperloop One. Pishevar, however, says the leave of absence is something he “came to and proposed on my own accord.” His full statement is below.

As many of you may have seen in recent news coverage, I filed a lawsuit last month against what I believe to be potential perpetrators of a smear campaign against me. As that legal action progresses, it is my priority to ensure that the Sherpa Capital family is not adversely affected.

Therefore, I have decided to take an immediate leave of absence from my duties at Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, as well as my portfolio company board responsibilities, so that I can pursue the prosecution of my lawsuit, where I am confident I will be

vindicated. Through the discovery process, I hope to unearth who fabricated the fraudulent London "police report," and who is responsible for spreading false rumors about me.

This was a decision I came to and proposed on my own accord. It is not one I took lightly and it was a difficult decision that was guided by Sherpa Capital's abiding belief in service and putting others before ourselves.

I care deeply about the incredible teams at Sherpa Capital and our portfolio companies and Virgin Hyperloop One, and hope that my decision to take a leave of absence will eliminate any potential distraction to the great and important work being done at these companies.

Update 8:00AM ET: Added link to Fast Company report on Pishevar’s arrest.