Nikola founder Trevor Milton has sued a Utah businessman for defamation and charged him with a "malicious campaign to harass" and discredit the billionaire by publicly accusing him of sexually abusing women on Twitter.
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 about Milton attempting to sexually assault them or suggesting them for sex with other men. In some cases, Bateman posted screenshots of women from conversations with Milton. One showed Milton allegedly offering to pay a woman $ 2,000 to "see" a man in Las Vegas if he could find the man.
The nine-page lawsuit filed in Utah federal court said Bateman "carried out a malicious campaign to harass and defame Mr. Milton and used Bateman's Twitter account to publish a number of false allegations against the plaintiff."
Milton's lawsuit does not question the authenticity of at least some of the screenshots tweeted by Bateman. It is said that Bateman published "private information" but that it was presented "in a misleading light".
"Bateman has bent down to the level of approaching women the plaintiff had known earlier in his life prior to his marriage and asked them to send screenshots of their private texts to the plaintiff," the lawsuit reads. "Bateman then published excerpts of these texts on Twitter and other online platforms in order to present the plaintiff in a misleading and unflattering manner."
Bateman is also said to have "outrageously" insinuated that Milton tried to associate women.
The lawsuit came two weeks after Milton stepped down as Nikola’s CEO on fraud allegations by a short-selling firm and days after Bateman began tweeting the screenshots.
Since then, two women have filed sexual abuse complaints against Milton with the Utah authorities. Both allegations were more than 15 years old, but separately concerned Milton's cousin and an office assistant. Both incidents allegedly occurred at the age of 15.
Through a spokesman, Milton strongly "denied" the women's allegations.
Bateman said he plans to fight the lawsuit and said everything he posted was correct.
"It is obviously true what I sent. He confirmed it. I will continue to protect these women and he will not intimidate me," Bateman said in an interview.
A request for comment from Milton's lawyers was not immediately returned.
Read the full complaint here: