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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tech Investor Files Defamation Suit Against Rape Accuser

Michael Arrington, the founder of the TechCrunch news site and now an investor in start-ups, has filed a lawsuit against a former girlfriend who has for several weeks alleged in various online forums that Mr. Arrington raped and threatened to kill her.

Mr. Arrington’s lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in federal court in Seattle, alleges that the former girlfriend, Jennifer Allen, has made repeated defamatory, false statements about Mr. Arrington “to smear the plaintiff’s name on the Internet, to destroy his reputation, and to deter third persons from associating with him.” The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Allen, who lives in San Francisco, was motivated by her frustration over her “intermittent romantic involvement” with Mr. Arrington.

Mr. Arrington’s suit doesn’t specify the amount of damages he is seeking, though it said the figure is over $75,000. A letter that Mr. Arrington’s attorney sent to Ms. Allen last month, in which he threatened to sue her if she did not retract her statements, said that Mr. Arrington has pledged to donate any damages to charity.

Ms. Allen didn’t respond to a message sent to her through Facebook.

Mr. Arrington, who now lives in Washington State, is a well-known figure throughout the technology industry. He founded TechCrunch, a news site that he turned into an influential chronicler of the start-up scene. He sold the site to AOL in 2010 for $30 million. He left the next year amid a controversy over potential conflicts of interest stemming from his plan to start a venture capital fund.

Mr. Arrington’s lawsuit notes that his problems with Ms. Allen began March 29, with a post on her Facebook page in which she said she had known him for more than eight years and that it “hurts when you love someone borderline and they can’t feel anything at all for you, and threaten to murder you if you told anyone about the physical abuse â€" all for keeping his reputation.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Allen later accused him more explicitly of raping her through posts in the comments section of the Gawker Web site and on her Twitter account. It also alleges that Ms. Allen in various posts on the matter said that the assaults occurred on different dates in March 2012, which she seemed to acknowledge when she referred to the disparity as an “unintentional date mixup.”