Hansjorg Wyss — a foreign billionaire with intimate ties to the United States’ top Democrats — wants authorities to imprison an American woman for speaking publicly about allegations of sexual abuse at his hands.
The revelations — first reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation — threaten to alienate female voters, a key constituency of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Wyss is a major donor to The Clinton Foundation, a director at The Center for American Progress, and once paid now-Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta $87,000.
Jacqueline Long of Aspen, Colorado alleges that Wyss would demand sex, and then later shower her with expensive gifts and contributions to causes she, as a development officer, advised the foundation to support.
Shortly after The Daily Caller News Foundation published a June 8 article that quoted Long, a lawyer for Wyss (pronounced “Vees”) filed an “emergency motion” asking Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas to impose sanctions, including imprisonment, to prevent further violations of the non-disclosure provision of a May 2013 settlement agreement.
The court has yet to decide on the Wyss motion, which was filed June 17.
Lawyers for Wyss, a Swiss businessman who in December 2014 contributed $5 million to The Clinton Foundation’s feminist “No Ceilings” project — a favorite of Hillary Clinton — also threatened TheDCNF.
In a June 9 letter to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Wyss attorney Carolyn P. Short demanded an “immediate retraction” of the earlier report because, she charged, the article contained many “blatant falsehoods.” Failure to retract would result in litigation, Short warned.
In response, TheDCNF asked Short to cite specific errors in the story. In a June 10 email to Short, TheDCNF’s counsel replied, “you refer to ‘many blatant falsehoods’ in the reporting. If you can identify what specifically is false, we will review it immediately. If any thing is incorrect, we want to fix it.”
Short declined to identify any errors. Instead, she made a sweeping assertion, claiming the article contained “reckless, damaging and false allegations from a former disgruntled employee who is solely seeking to leverage those false statements for financial gain.”
TheDCNF reiterated that “accuracy is our first concern. When we get something wrong, we correct it immediately. Mr. Wyss’s lawyers have not cited a single error of fact in any story published by The Daily Caller News Foundation.”
TheDCNF contacted Craig Minassian, the Clinton Foundation’s chief communications officer, for comment about Wyss and the retaliatory legal actions he sought against Long. Minassian did not respond.
TheDCNF also sought comment from the Clinton Foundation prior to publishing the June 8 story on whether Mrs. Clinton or other officials there were aware of Wyss’ alleged history of sexual abuse of women. The foundation has never replied.
However, in an indication of the close relationship between the Clinton Foundation and its Swiss donor, in a July 14 letter, Short said she had been warned by the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that another story about Wyss was about to be published.
Despite failing to provide any examples of factual mistakes in TheDCNF’s story, Short asserted concerning the prospective story that “the premise you have has no basis in fact.”
The original June 8 story highlighted Long’s case. She was a former employee at a Wyss foundation and at a California vineyard he owns. She described a lengthy intimate relationship with Wyss that allegedly turned violent and abusive.
The 2013 settlement agreement provided a $1.5 million payment to Long and a provision in which both parties agreed to keep details of the agreement secret.
Long’s supporters vigorously defend her and denounce Wyss, arguing that threatening her with jail for going public about his conduct toward her amounts to another round of abuse.
“I think he’s taking a bullying tactic,” Long friend Katie Beckley told TheDCNF. It’s another form of abuse.” Beckley specializes in grief therapy and operates a counseling practice in Aspen.
“He decided to be so vengeful toward her. It was pure vengeance. I was encouraged to see her speaking out. I think it showed a lot of courage,” Beckley said.
A woman who has known both Long and Wyss for many years and who requested anonymity because she fears retaliation by Wyss said the Swiss billionaire would often switch back and forth between harsh attacks, then offer gifts.
“This is the pattern of what he does,” she recalled. “He flourishes with one hand and then knocks down with the other. He likes to be in control. He doesn’t like it when he isn’t in control. And that’s when he lashes out.”
Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said seeking control and mixing abuse with gifts is a pattern of behavior that is often displayed by men who abuse women. The organization has aided 500,000 abused women nationwide.
“It is absolutely the pattern when the abuse is occurring,” Glenn said. “First, they do something violent or emotional. Then they make nice.”
Glenn, who was a victim of abuse, said abusive men often become particularly violent when a woman wants to leave a destructive relationship.
Long charges that’s exactly what happened in early 2011 when she tried to end her relationship with Wyss while they were at the Governor Morris Hotel in Morristown, N.J.
In a complaint filed by Long with the Morris Township police, she said “he sexually assaulted me – me screaming no [to] stop it” and he “almost suffocated me by putting his fist in my mouth. I struggled and pushed. I thought for sure he was going to kill me.”
Long also charged that Wyss used her daughter, Callie, who suffered from drug dependency, as “leverage” to continue the abusive relationship.
“Hansjorg used my daughter as a tool of leverage to get to me, to control me. He preyed upon the love I had for my daughter,” she said. Wyss paid for some medical and addiction treatments for Callie, according to Long. Callie died Feb. 9, 2014, at the age of 27.
“He pretended he cared about Callie,” added the woman who knows Wyss and Long socially.
Glenn also said even after a relationship is long over, abusers often will turn to legal systems to re-assert control.
“They will maintain control by using any systems that are at their disposal to continue to batter,” she told TheDCNF. “Across the nation, we’re finding more and more batterers are becoming more astute about being able to use systems against their victims.”
Long enjoys wide support among Colorado’s law enforcement community, especially for her work in helping to form the Innocence Lost Project in that state. The program was started by the FBI in 2003 to help young girls who are captive in the sex trafficking trade.
“She had a great reputation,” said Lt. Aaron Sanchez, a member of the Denver Policy Department’s investigative support division, who was part of the Innocence Lost project when Long helped to establish it in the state.
“She was kind of the glue,” Sanchez said. “She helped us stay committed. When Jackie came to the table, she assisted in uniting all of us. She was a strong supporter of all of our efforts. Speaking for myself, she’s earned my respect.”
TheDCNF has reviewed the Long-Wyss settlement agreement. TheDCNF also obtained a May 8, 2013, settlement offer letter to Wyss lawyers Carolyn Short and Joe Sedlack.
Long “is suing for damages on account of the personal physical injuries and physical sickness she suffered literally at the hands of Mr. Wyss,” asserted Long attorney M. Ryan DiMaria to Short and Sedlack.
“The sexual behavior that Mr. Wyss required Ms. Long to participate in ran the full gamut of rather perverse sex acts,” DiMaria wrote, graphically outlining eight sex acts Wyss allegedly forced Long to endure.
“The above is only a small sampling of what Ms. Long would allege should she be forced to describe in a civil suit or in a federal case,” DiMaria said.
One week later, Wyss signed the $1.5 million settlement.
Long is unrepentant, saying she was abused by a wealthy man with many powerful friends in Washington, D.C. “He’s trying to suppress me, to keep me silent,” she said.
“For me, telling the truth, if it helps one woman, one daughter, one victim, is extremely important. That is what I set out to do. It’s what I’m going to continue to do,” she said.
Long sought to warn Hillary Clinton about Wyss’ conduct last December after he announced his $5 million contribution to the former secretary of state’s No Ceilings project.
The envelope to Clinton had been opened but was returned to Long with the words “Will Not Accept” boldly written on the outside.
Long’s allegations contradict Wyss’ carefully cultivated image as a philanthropist and generous supporter of liberal and environmental political causes and individuals.
Short repeated this claim in her June 9 letter, stating that “Mr. Wyss’ philanthropic efforts” include “women’s equality, and other forward-thinking causes.”
The Wyss Foundation has net assets of $2.1 billion, according to his IRS Form 990 filing. His personal wealth is estimated at $6.1 billion. He is closely tied to the Clintons.
Besides the $5 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation, Wyss is a major financial supporter and a member of the board of directors of the Center for American Progress.
The group’s founder was Podesta, now Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman and the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton while he served in the White House.
When Podesta became a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on environmental issues, he also listed $87,000 in consulting fees he received from the HJW Foundation, a foundation which Wyss closed last year and consolidated with the private Wyss Foundation.
This is not the first time Wyss has been in the national spotlight for alleged wrongdoing.
Federal prosecutors obtained guilty pleas in 2011 for four senior executives of Synthes, the U.S. subsidiary of a Swiss medical devices company where Wyss was CEO. The guilty pleas were in connection with the deaths of five people in drug trials conducted by Synthes.
The four executives went to prison for varying terms and the Wyss company was fined $23 million. The federal judge in the case charged that Synthes ran “rogue clinics” and agreed with a prosecution witness that the company engaged in “human experimentation” by using a medical spinal treatment on people without their consent and without the required Food and Drug Administration clinical trials.
Synthes allegedly marketed its product to hundreds of surgeons even though pigs had died during earlier Synthes animal experiments and decided to avoid FDA approval for use of the drug on people.
Wyss was identified as “Person No. 7” in the original Department of Justice indictment because he participated in the pivotal meetings where the company decided to ignore FDA rules. But he was never formally charged by the Obama administration.
A year later, he sold his company to Johnson & Johnson for $21.3 billion.
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