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Lawsuit against VC says he ‘groped and fondled multiple women’ for over a decade

Lawsuit against VC says he ‘groped and fondled multiple women’ for over a decade


Tech founder Danae Vachata alleges that Lucio Lanza boasted about his ability to ‘make or break’ careers while assaulting her

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After filing a lawsuit against venture capitalist Lucio Lanza last month for sexually assaulting her on a red-eye flight, tech founder Danae Vachata now says that more women have since contacted her to describe similar experiences spanning over a decade. Her lawyers filed an amended complaint today in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleging that “Lanza has groped and fondled multiple women over a period of more than ten years, similarly boasting about his power in the tech community to ‘make or break’ careers as part of his pattern of abusing and exploiting women.” These new women are not being named at this time, but may become publicly identified over the course of the lawsuit.

The 73-year-old Lanza is the managing director of Lanza techVentures, a venture capital firm that claims on its website to have backed over fifty startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Vachata, who co-founded the medical surgical startup Mallium and was part of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Healthcare in 2018, alleges that she was on the same flight as Lanza in July 2017. Her lawsuit says that he appeared to be very drunk and smelling of alcohol, and at one point swapped seats with the person next to her. She alleges that he began to physically assault her, groping her breasts and crotch area, even while she resisted and verbally asked him to stop.

“part of a pattern of abusing and exploiting women”

The lawsuit states that “throughout the assault, Defendant went on about his power in the industry in which Ms. Vachata works and how he has the capability to ‘make or break’ her career.” The lawsuit also alleges that Lanza said he was interested in investing in her company.

“After the incident happened, just by the way he approached things and the way that he threatened me, I knew deep down inside that this wasn’t his first time,” Vachata told The Verge. She says that after the first news articles about her lawsuit ran, multiple women reached out to her alleging that similar things had happened to them. “It was very like, oh my goodness, someone believes me. Someone knows that I’m not making this up.” She said that at the same time it was devastating to know that Lanza had allegedly “been doing this for so long and he has been using fear tactics to silence us.”

A spokesperson for Lanza previously told Business Insider, “Lucio has no idea of what he is being accused of. As far as he remembers, he was on a plane talking with this woman about her startup.”

When reached for comment today, a spokesperson for Lanza did not immediately respond.

Update March 8th, 5:46PM: A spokesperson for Lucio Lanza told The Verge via email, “Ms. Vachata’s amended complaint is as sensationalist and meritless as the original.  Neither has even been served on Mr. Lanza, but instead has been presented to the media to smear his name.  We will defend Mr. Lanza vigorously.”