Lawsuit Against Pasadena Investors and Their Organization Alleges Sexual Assault, Discrimination, Fraud

Businesswoman alleges member of the Pasadena Angels, a nonprofit investor group, forced himself on her

Published : Thursday, August 2, 2018 | 1:45 PM

Entrepreneur Jamie Nicole Baca has filed suit against a Pasadena businessman, a Pasadena attorney and a local group of accredited investors.

A businesswoman has filed a wide-ranging lawsuit alleging sexual assault, discrimination and business-related wrongdoing on the part of a Pasadena businessman, a Pasadena attorney and a local group of accredited investors.

An attorney representing one of the defendants calls the suit “false” and “ridiculous,” saying the allegations are the result of a business deal gone bad.

The case centers around the Pasadena Angels, a nonprofit group of accredited investors who specialize in funding and partnering with small startup-stage businesses. The suit was filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court by attorney Stephen Ilg of the San Bruno-based ILG Legal Office on behalf of entrepreneur Jamie Nicole Baca.

It names the Pasadena Angels as a group, Pasadena Angels member investor Mustapha Baha and Pasadena Angels Board of Directors member Kristin Hiibner as defendants and seeks unspecified damages, both compensatory and punitive.

“No human should experience what Ms. Baca has,” said Ilg, who is providing his services through the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. “Hers is a story that needs to be shared, as it is an example of how widespread gender abuse is in our country.”

Baha did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Burbank, alleges in part that a member of the Pasadena Angels, a nonprofit investor group, forced himself on a businesswoman seeking investment funds, promising her that his group would invest if she had sex with him.

Attorney Scott Vick of the L.A.-based Vick Law Group, who is representing Hiibner, flatly denied the allegations laid forth in Baca’s lawsuit.

“The ridiculous ramshackle complaint is larded with false and preposterous allegations made against my client apparently as a preemptive move against my client’s demands for an accounting from the plaintiff of my client’s personal investment in the plaintiff’s failed company,” he said.

“My client will defend vigorously and pursue her own claims against the plaintiff and expects complete and total vindication,” Vick said.

The lawsuit claims the Pasadena Angeles organization is male-dominated, with less than 10-percent female membership as of late June.

Baca was in the process of obtaining financing and other services from Pasadena Angels when she encountered Baha, it states.

The lawsuit claims in November of 2017, Baha told Baca to come to his home to go over some documents where he forcibly touched and kissed her.

“Defendant Baha told Ms. Baca that he would invest in her company only if she had sex with him. Ms. Baca did not agree, and Defendant Baha did not invest in her company,” according to the suit. “(The other) Defendants correspondingly refused to invest in Ms. Baca.”

The legal action goes on to allege a series of claims related to business issues.

“Defendants also committed breach of contract, fraud and negligence,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Hiibner and Defendant Pasadena Angels were contractually required to complete various steps which were not done or were done negligently.”

“Defendants knowingly misled Plaintiff in order to induce Plaintiff to meet at the home of Defendant Baha and to engage in various investor discussions with Defendant Pasadena Angels and pay for services performed by Defendant Hiibner,” the suit states.

It was not clear Wednesday whether Baha and Baca were involved in a personal relationship at any point.

Baha was previously married. His wife, San Marino businesswoman Bonnie Baha, was fatally struck by a car in Virginia two years ago.

Ilg said the case was indicative of a larger societal problem.

“Beyond the traditional employment context of supervisor and employee, many female entrepreneurs across the country — beyond Silicon Valley — suffer due to investor communities and companies that remain male-dominated,” Ilg said. “Women are facing serious professional challenges ranging from lack of access to blatant sexual harassment and assault, like in this case. We need to continue fighting against individuals and funders who turn positions of power into licenses to abuse.”

Pasadena Angels spokeswoman Mimi Carter said the organization is an inclusive one.

“While we cannot comment on this case, we can assert that our policy has always been to invest in strong founders and great ideas without regard to age, ethnicity, gender or sexual preferences,” she said.

“The Pasadena Angels have invested over $75 (million) in 195 early stage companies and helped to grow the Southern California economy for the past 18 years,” Carter added. “Mindbody, our first IPO, is one of the largest employers in San Obispo County and BlueBeam Software, funded by the Pasadena Angels, is a thriving tech employer in Pasadena. We remain committed to helping forward-thinking innovators and entrepreneurs with the funding and mentorship that fuels success.”

 

 

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