SAN FRANCISCO – Less than a week after being beaten with claims that he sexually harassed six women, Virgin Hyperloop co-founder Shervin Pishevar said on Tuesday he was taking a leave of absence from his businesses to focus on a lawsuit against a research firm that he believes is behind a smear campaign.

The venture capitalist, one of the first investors in Uber, was placed in the nation's growing center of sexual harassment last week. A Bloomberg report denounced that it fumbled for former Uber employee Austin Geidt at a Uber party in 2014, citing unidentified witnesses. Geidt, currently head of operations, has not commented on the matter. The report also said that she harassed other women in professional settings.

Pishevar responded to those claims last week through crisis management spokesman Mark Fabiani, saying that Pishevar was the focus of a "smear campaign."

Pishevar's statement on Tuesday that he had "I decided to take an immediate leave of absence from my duties at Sherpa Capital and Virgin Hyperloop One, as well as the board responsibilities of my product portfolio, so that I can proceed with the prosecution of my lawsuit, where I'm sure it will be vindicated. "

The venture capital firm he co-founded, Sherpa Capital, said it was launching an independent internal review to "ensure that our practices and operations continue to reflect the highest professional and ethical standards."

"We respect and support Shervin's decision to take a license while he exercises his rights under the law," said the statement, published on Tuesday. "We recognize the inherent challenges of reporting misconduct, but keep in mind that Sherpa has never received a report of sexual harassment."

Although the other business partners of the venture capitalist have been silent on the allegations, two Democratic senators: Kamala Harris (California) and Cory Booker (NJ), who received donations from Pishevar, a large Democratic donor, said they gave their donations to organizations that support women who face sexual violence.

Silicon Valley Bank, which at the end of October invested in a Sherpa effort called Silicon Foundry, which seeks to connect new businesses with established companies and recently opened a 12,500-square-foot San Francisco site, did not respond to multiple emails and messages telephone numbers seeking comments.

A Virgin spokesman did not comment on the allegations, but confirmed that the company remains an investor in Hyperloop One. While the size of Virgin's investment in the tube transport system is unknown at 700 miles time, it was big enough to justify adding your name to the company.

The lawsuit that Pishevar faces comes from an incident in London last May, in which a woman told police she had been raped by Pishevar in a hotel.

A month later, Pishevar received a court order that prevented the British media from appointing him, although that decision did not apply to the US media. UU According to a recent report by Forbes London police officers closed the case in July due to insufficient evidence.

A police report cited by some media that contained details about the incident was considered a forgery. That report incited Pishevar's anger and suspicion, and subsequently sued Definers Public Affairs, a Washington-DC public affairs and research firm.

"Through the discovery process (of the case), I hope to find out who made the fraudulent London police report, and who is responsible for spreading false rumors about me," said Pishevar. "It was a decision I made and proposed on my own, it was not one that I took lightly and it was a difficult decision guided by the permanent belief of Sherpa Capital in the service and putting others before ourselves"

. Tim Miller described Pishevar's accusations as "delusional, we have never engaged in any of the actions he described in this lawsuit, and Definers has never worked on Mr. Pishevar."

The Bloomberg report also told anecdotes of five other women who allege that Pishevar took advantage of his position of power to make unwanted sexual advances.

Although women are anonymous, Bloomberg backed up her findings by corroborating stories with people women told about the alleged behavior, as well as by reviewing Facebook messages related to the incidents.

"He basically jumped on me, tried to put his tongue in my throat, and I stopped him," said one of the women in the Bloomberg report. "I wanted to get professional advice, and it became something else, it was really inappropriate."

Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler said in a statement: "We fully support those who have felt harassed when talking, when and how they want We commend your courage. "

Follow the USA TODAY technology reporter Marco della Cava on Twitter.

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