Ex-Child Actress Accused of Plotting to Take Down Silicon Valley Billionaire Peter Thiel's Firm
Crystal McKellar worked for Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital Management from 2012 until this past February
A lawyer who once appeared on The Wonder Years as a child actress has been accused of trying to sabotage the venture capital firm co-founded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel by way of a deceitful letter-writing campaign.
Crystal McKellar, 43, was hit with a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Texas state court on behalf of Mithril Capital Management, which Thiel co-founded in 2012, and at which she used to work as general counsel, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE and first reported by the New York Post.
The breach of contract suit alleges that after McKellar left Mithril in February, she soon started writing anonymous handwritten letters to its investors to “undermine” the company with “false, anonymous complaints” aiming to “sow discord between Mithril and its business partners.”
A spokesperson for Thiel declined to comment.
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The letters were not signed, but occasionally included a return address with certain initials that, more than once, led recipients “to assume the letters originated from one of Mithril’s more significant limited partners,” the suit claims.
One of the letters accused Thiel’s co-founder Ajay Royan of “lying to investors and the public about how much” he charged in management fees, though the suit alleges he did not lie, and that McKellar even wrote and signed off on the disclosure agreements, according to the papers.
“More than one witness or intended victim has reported such conduct to Mithril after being contacted by Ms. McKellar,” the suit claims.
The actress-turned-lawyer was identified as the alleged letter-writing culprit in a forensic handwriting analysis, a discovery that shocked Mithril higher-ups, as she’d heaped high praise on Royan shortly before leaving, the suit says.
In a statement to PEOPLE, McKellar denied the allegations, and said that though she had not yet been served a copy of the complaint, they would be easy to prove them wrong.
“Based on the media coverage, I can state that the allegations of wrongdoing are unequivocally false, and it will be a simple matter to prove them false if it gets that far,” she said. “This really isn’t about me. This is about what’s going on at Mithril … These investors placed their trust and money in promises that were made by Mithril. I left Mithril earlier this year when it became clear to me that Mithril’s leadership was lying to its investors and that the promises it had made were not going to be kept.”
In her statement, McKellar also defended Thiel, and noted that he was not part of Mithril’s management and she had “never witnessed [him] tell a lie.”
“My parents taught my sister and I to do the right thing, even when it is the hard thing and to have our actions dictated by our integrity,” she wrote. “I am proud of the choices I have made, and my family is proud.”
In response, Mithril spokesperson said, “Mithril’s attorneys sent the lawsuit to Ms McKellar’s lawyers.”
“Mithril filed this lawsuit to protect its investors, portfolio companies and employees from the acts described in this lawsuit,” the spokesperson said.
According to her LinkedIn, McKellar became managing partner at Signum Investments after leaving Mithril, and in July, she appeared to have founded a company called Anathem Ventures.
The lawsuit claims that McKellar had signed a non-compete agreement that she violated by moving to another venture capital firm.
The suit is seeking more than $1 million in relief.
For years most famous as a Silicon Valley investor and PayPal co-founder, Thiel, 51, emerged as one of the leading — and lone — tech tycoon voices backing President Donald Trump.
That steadfast support, which has included dismissing Trump’s habit of lying and personally attacking his critics, made him a “punching bag” in the tech community, according to Bloomberg.
“I was surprised that it generated as much controversy as it did,” he told The New York Times in 2017 of his pro-Trump politics.
In a 2018 interview with Dave Rubin, Thiel described why he preferred Trump through the lens of his libertarian views on foreign policy. He said he was won over by Trump’s skepticism toward the use of military force abroad.