Nikola founder Trevor Milton has sued a Utah businessman for defamation, accusing him of a “malicious campaign to harass” and discredit the billionaire by publicly accusing him over Twitter of sexually abusing women, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.
David Bateman, the founder and CEO of software company Entrata, started tweeting about Milton in late September, posting screenshots of conversations he allegedly had with women who said Milton tried to sexually assault them or propositioned them for sex with other men. In some cases, Bateman posted screenshots from women of conversations they had with Milton. One showed Milton allegedly offering to pay a woman $2,000 to “hook up” with a guy in Las Vegas if he could pick out the man.
The nine-page lawsuit filed in Utah federal court says Bateman “engaged in a malicious campaign to harass and defame Mr. Milton, using Bateman’s Twitter account to publish a series of false accusations against Plaintiff.”
Milton’s lawsuit doesn’t challenge the authenticity of at least some of the screenshots Bateman tweeted. It says that Bateman published “private information” but it was presented “in a misleading light.”
“Bateman has stooped to the level of approaching women Plaintiff had known earlier in his life, prior to his marriage, and asking them to send screenshots of their private texts with Plaintiff,” the lawsuit states. “Bateman then published excerpts of those texts on Twitter and other online platforms in an effort to present Plaintiff in a misleading and unflattering manner.”
It also says that Bateman insinuated, “outrageously,” that Milton attempted to traffic women.
The lawsuit was filed two weeks after Milton resigned as executive chairman of Nikola amid fraud allegations by a short selling firm and days after Bateman started tweeting about the screenshots.
Since then, two women have filed sexual abuse complaints with Utah authorities against Milton. Both allegations were more than 15 years old but separately involved Milton’s cousin and an office assistant. Both incidents allegedly occurred when the women were 15 years old.
Through a spokesman, Milton “strongly denied” the accusations of the women.
Bateman said he plans to fight the lawsuit, saying everything he posted was accurate.
“It’s obviously true, the things that I sent. He’s confirmed it. I will continue protecting these women and he’s not going to intimidate me,” Bateman said in an interview.
A request for comment from Milton’s lawyers wasn’t immediately returned.
Read the full complaint here: