A Legal Coda to the #MeToo Era

In November 2021, Tatiana Spottiswoode testified before the House Judiciary Committee about her relationship with Zia Chishti, and how Chishti allegedly subjected her to humiliating situations at work and sent her disturbing emails.
In November 2021, Tatiana Spottiswoode testified before the House Judiciary Committee about her relationship with Zia Chishti. Photo: Screenshot via House Committee on the Judiciary
Eriq Gardner
September 4, 2023

Six years after the height of the #MeToo movement, some men accused of bad behavior are seeking restitution—and in some cases, revenge. Barstool founder Dave Portnoy and pitcher Trevor Bauer recently took news outlets to court after being accused of inappropriate behavior. Andrew Cuomo has served dozens of subpoenas in his quest to challenge the accusations that led him to resign as governor. Joshua Wright, a former top law professor, just sued the students who accused him of sexual misconduct, seeking $108 million in damages. Many could be hoping to emulate Johnny Depp, who won a defamation suit against Amber Heard in a high-profile trial last year. 

Yet perhaps the most audacious example of a man attempting to fight back is Zia Chishti, the politically-connected former C.E.O. of Afiniti, an A.I. software company. A Pakistani-American inventor and entrepreneur, Chishti made a fortune as the founder of Align Technology, the pioneering orthodontics company making invisible braces. He later led a successful private equity firm, TRG, and even graced People’s list of 50 most eligible bachelors. He founded Afiniti in 2005. With a D.C. office overlooking the White House, Chishti had an enviable network of advisors, including former Bush treasury secretary John Snow, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, former leaders of Britain, France, and Spain, as well as former chiefs of BP, Sony, and Verizon. 

A few years ago, Chishti was accused of assault by a young woman named Tatiana Spottiswoode. According to Spottiswoode’s rendition of events, Chishti, a friend of her father, had pursued her when she was a 21-year-old college senior. Later, she became one of his young employees and they engaged in a sexual relationship, which she ended. But Chishti continued to pressure her, ultimately leading to a horrific sexual assault in 2019, she alleged, leaving her hospitalized with bruises around her neck and a concussion. Spottiswoode and Afiniti eventually settled in private arbitration.