Lawsuit: Silicon Valley venture capitalist allegedly sexually assaulted female startup founder on red-eye flight

SAN JOSE — A female technology startup founder filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist for alleged sexual assault on an overnight flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis.

Rachel Danae Vachata, a 29-year old co-founder of technology companies, alleges that 73-year old venture capitalist Lucio Lanza “preyed on” Vachata by threatening to use his position to make or break her companies and then repeatedly groped and attempted to kiss her during the flight last July, according to the complaint filed with the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Lanza is the founder and managing director of Lanza techVentures based in Palo Alto. He did not immediately respond to voicemail, text and email requests for comment Wednesday.

Vachata — who founded two companies (Mallium and Dynamic Surgical) since 2015, according to her LinkedIn profile — said in a statement that she decided to go public about her encounter with Lanza because “exposing sexual harassment and assault is vital.”

“Victims did not create the problem, but we will be part of the solution.” said Vachata. “We can’t be afraid to stand up for ourselves and others — safety is a basic human right.”

Vachata alleges that on a July 28 red-eye flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis, Lanza sat next to her — despite having been assigned a different seat by the airline — and began talking to her after seeing her company’s logo on her computer. Her lawsuit alleges that after a flight attendant told Lanza to move back to his correct seat, he returned to sit next to Vachata when an off-duty pilot left the seat next to Vachata’s.

Lanza allegedly became physical with Vachata, grabbing her breast, attempting to kiss her and inserting his hand into her crotch area, according to the complaint. Lanza was allegedly intoxicated during the assault, slurring his words and saying he was “close friends with Steve Jobs and talked at length about his work at Intel and his investments.”

Lanza also allegedly told Vachata he had enough power in the industry to “make or break” her career and that he was interested in investing in her company.

Vachata alerted the off-duty pilot when he came back to his assigned seat beside her, and alerted the airline personnel and law enforcement, the complaint states. During her connecting flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, Vachata said she fainted due to the intense stress and trauma from the sexual assault, according to the complaint.

Vachata’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

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