Cannabis Company CEO Resigns After Rape Allegations

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PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregonian reported Tuesday that the CEO of Cura Cannabis Nitin Khanna has quit his position with the company due to a past rape allegation and defamation attacks on social media. Khanna quit the company last week.  

Cura Cannabis said Khanna resigned because the rape allegations were a distraction from the company's mission, adding he did not want the rape allegations to cause further issues.   

Khanna was not criminally charged with rape but settled a civil lawsuit out of court with the woman who made the allegations. Khanna claimed he had consensual sex with the woman but denied he raped her. Prosecutors said DNA evidence proved sexual contact occurred but could not determine consent or lack thereof.   

Prosecutors Could Not Prove Case Beyond Reasonable Doubt 

Yamhill County prosecutors said at the time that they could not "prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” but that it did not mean that the "assault didn't happen." 

The accuser claimed to have been raped the morning of Khanna's wedding at the hotel and sued him for $2.3 million. The accuser was the bride's makeup artist and applied her makeup before the wedding and attended the dinner rehearsal the evening prior.  

The civil lawsuit was settled in 2014 and the terms were sealed. The accuser attended a rehearsal dinner the evening before and claimed the alleged assault happened at the hotel early the next morning. DNA evidence was found on the dress the accuser wore the evening in question.  

David Markowitz was Khanna's attorney for the civil lawsuit and said his defendant denied all charges. He added that his client was never charged with a crime.

"When someone is falsely accused with something like this, whether criminally or in a civil suit, it is devastating. Mr. Khanna will defend this case on the facts, and we expect the result here will be the same as it was in the criminal investigation," he said. 

Khanna was the co-founder of the software company Saber Corp. before entering the cannabis industry. He sold the Portland business in 2007 for $420 million.  

Cura Cannabis Files $10 Million Defamation Lawsuit 

Cura Cannabis filed a $10 million defamation suit Wednesday against anonymous individuals with fraudulent social media accounts making rape allegations against Khanna. The company hopes to expose those responsible for the accounts. The lawsuit refers to both of the defendants as "John Doe." 

The lawsuit alleged that the by contacting the company's partners through calls and emails defaming the company. Cura Cannabis claims they lost business because of the allegations.    

The defamation lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court and claims anonymous people sought to “malign, defame and harass Cura and Mr. Khanna” through fraudulent Instagram and Twitter social media accounts 

The lawsuit goes on to say the allegations are demonstrably false, defamatory, and "made with malicious intent” intended to sabotage the company.  

President of the company Cameron Forni said another company may be behind the social media defamation, calling the allegations a “campaign by a competitor to harm our company.”  

Cura Cannabis sells cannabis oil for vaping and other various extracts and vaping paraphernalia. The company expects to generate revenue upwards of $120 million this year and has 250 employees.  

The company says it aims to deter further defamation attacks on Khanna or the company by filing the $10 million lawsuit. The company said that Khanna stopped running operations earlier in the year before officially resigning last week.