Sexual assault allegations against the founder and former chairman of Nikola prompted additional questions Tuesday about the electric truck startup and its pending deal with General Motors.

The allegations by two women concern Trevor Milton, who abruptly resigned September 21 amid accusations of fraud that had led to a big pullback in shares following the September 8 GM announcement.

Milton denied the charges through a spokesperson.

Craig Johnson, a Utah attorney representing the two women, said he was in contact with law enforcement authorities over complaints of unwanted sexual contact when they were minors.

Aubrey Smith, Milton’s cousin, alleges that in 1999 when she was 15 years old, Milton “groped her breast without her consent,” according to a press release from Johnson’s firm.

The second victim, who is unnamed, alleges that in 2004 when she was 15, Milton “digitally penetrated her vagina with his finger after work one day,” according to the press release.

Nikola shares fell again amid allegations of sexual assault against the company's founder and former chairman Nikola shares fell again amid allegations of sexual assault against the company’s founder and former chairman Photo: Nikola Motor / –

Milton “strongly denies these false allegations,” a spokesman said. “At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone.”

Shares of Nikola plunged 8.6 percent to $17.64.

The company’s share price had been under pressure for the last three weeks following a report by Hindenburg Research that called the company an “intricate fraud.”

The report was released a few days after GM announced a manufacturing partnership with Nikola that would give the auto giant an 11 percent stake in the startup.

GM, which had previously reaffirmed plans to complete the deal, hinted Tuesday it might change course.

“Our transaction with Nikola has not closed,” GM said. “We are continuing our discussions with Nikola and will provide further

(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton has been accused by a second woman of sexual assault.



a sign on the side of a road: Signage is displayed outside Nikola Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.


© Bloomberg
Signage is displayed outside Nikola Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.

The woman used to be Milton’s work assistant and was 15-years-old at the time of the alleged attack, which she says occurred in Utah, according to a statement from the law firm representing both victims.

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A spokesperson for Milton said he “strongly denies these false allegations.”

“At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone,” the spokesperson said. Nikola shares fell as much as 5.4% to $18.25 before the start of regular trading.

Milton has had a tumultuous few weeks. He stepped down from his executive chairman position at the electric-truck maker after claims of deception leveled by short seller Hindenburg Research sent Nikola’s stock spiraling. He’s also been accused by his first cousin, Aubrey Smith, of sexual assault in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17 — allegations he has also denied.

Both women are cooperating with law enforcement as their allegations are investigated, Provo, Utah-based firm Craig Johnson Law said in the statement. The second woman’s allegations were first reported by CNBC.

Hindenburg Research, a firm that owns a short position in Nikola’s stock and stands to gain from a decline in the share price, said Sept. 10 that Milton and Nikola deceived investors about its business prospects — claims that are now the subject of inquiries by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, the Justice Department.

(Updates with Nikola shares trading in the fourth paragraph.)

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