(CNN)Two women alleged that they were sexually assaulted when they were teenagers by Trevor Milton, the founder and former executive chairman of Nikola Motor Company.
The two women — one who was identified as Milton’s cousin, Aubrey Smith, and the other whose identity is being withheld and is referred to as a Jane Doe — are being represented by Utah-based attorney Craig Johnson. The women allege they were sexually assaulted by Milton in 1999 and 2004 when both women were 15, respectively.
Smith’s complaint was filed with the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake in Utah on Saturday. Sergeant Melody Cutler with the Department confirmed to CNN Business that it received a complaint regarding a sexual assault incident in September 1999 against Milton, when he would have been 17, on Saturday.
“Mr. Milton strongly denies these false allegations,” said Brandon Messina, a spokesperson for Trevor Milton, in a statement to CNN Business. “At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone,” Messina added.
Nikola referred requests for comment to Milton.
The new allegations come one week after the 38-year-old entrepreneur abruptly resigned from his post on Nikola’s board after a report published earlier this month from short seller Hindenburg Research alleged Nikola to be an “intricate fraud built on dozens of lies” throughout Milton’s career. CNN was unable to authenticate the claims made in Hindenburg’s report, and Milton tweeted that the report was a “hit job by hindenburg” and an attempt at stock manipulation and promised a detailed rebuttal, before deleting his Twitter account shortly after. Nikola announced it had hired a law firm to explore legal action against Hindenburg and said it plans to bring the matter before the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The hydrogen and electric truck startup went public in June and announced it had struck a $2 billion stock deal with General Motors that would also see GM build its electric pickup truck, the Nikola Badger, just days before the Hindenburg report.
“Our transaction with Nikola has not closed. We are in discussions with current Nikola management and will provide further updates when appropriate or required. In light of recent allegations regarding the personal behavior of Nikola’s former Executive Chairman, Trevor Milton, we want to emphasize that GM strongly condemns sexual harassment and abuse of any kind,” GM said Tuesday in a statement.
Smith alleged in a series of Twitter posts that Milton groped her breast without her consent at the occasion of a family funeral. The Jane Doe, who served as an assistant to Milton, alleges that Milton “digitally penetrated her vagina with his finger after work one day,” according to a press release from Johnson’s law office.
Jane Doe’s complaint was filed with the St. George, Utah Police Department on Friday, her attorney, Johnson, said. The St. George Police Department did not immediately return CNN Business’ request for comment.
Speaking on behalf of the women, Johnson said “their hope is that their voices are heard, that they can get some closure by being empowered to stand up for themselves and no longer suffer in silence.”
He said that while the statute of limitations on Smith’s claims have likely expired, her testimony could still be relevant in court. While Jane Doe’s claim would have been set to expire in 2008 under a four-year limitation, Utah’s law was amended to remove the statute of limitations so her case would likely be grandfathered in, said Johnson.
Smith told CNN Business in an interview last week that while it wasn’t the first time she has spoken out about the alleged assault — she posted a #MeToo story on Facebook in 2017 stating she was assaulted by her cousin — it is the first time she has named Milton as the perpetrator. CNBC published a screenshot of her 2017 post.