Two different women have filed formal sexual assault allegations against Nikola founder Trevor Milton in Utah.
According to CNBC, Milton’s cousin, Aubrey Ferrin Smith, authored a social media post this month accusing him of groping her at a family function in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17. Ferrin Smith then filed a formal complaint with the police in Halladay, Utah, where the assault allegedly took place. The victim and her family agreed to speak on record about the case to CNBC.
The second alleged assault, according to CNBC, occurred in 2004 when Milton was 22. In this instance, Milton hired a 15-year girl as an office assistant for a security company he ran and assaulted her while at the office, according to Craig Johnson, who is representing both women.
Milton denied the accusations in a statement released through a spokesperson.
“Mr. Milton strongly denies these false allegations. At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone,” Brandon Messina, Milton’s spokesman, told CNBC in an email this week.
General Motors announced a no-cash deal with Nikola Corporation this month in which it agreed to give the company access to its Hydrotec fuel cell and Ultium battery technology and also build and engineer the new Nikola Badger pickup truck. In exchange, GM received a stake in Nikola equivalent to about 11%.
Shortly after the deal was announced, Hindenberg Research published an article accusing Milton of operating an “intricate fraud” with Nikola and outlining the various ways the company exaggerated or lied about the capabilities of its technology. The report eventually led to Milton’s resignation and forced both the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice to look into the company’s previous dealings – investigations which remain ongoing.
GM noted the deal was “subject to customary antitrust regulatory approval and closing conditions,” in its initial announcement and said the parties “anticipate closing the transaction prior to Sept. 30, 2020.” A GM spokesperson told CNBC on Monday that talks with Nikola are still ongoing – even with the September 30th deadline this week.
“Our transaction with Nikola has not closed,” a GM spokesperson said on Monday. “We are continuing our discussions with Nikola and will provide further updates when appropriate or required.”
GM previously indicated that it intended to go forth with the deal regardless of Nikola’s internal situation, saying it will work with the company “to close the transaction we announced nearly two weeks ago.” The automaker did not say whether it was aware of the sexual assault allegations against Milton when asked by CNBC, nor if the accusations could impact the deal even with Milton out of the company.