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Female Yahoo! exec files defamation cross-complaint over sexual harassment lawsuit

The female Yahoo! executive accused of trying to force her female subordinate into sexual relations filed a cross-complaint for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional duress in Santa Clara County Court on Wednesday.

Zhang's attorneys called the original allegations of sexual harassment by Nan Shi “outrageously false” in the cross-complaint. ”Making such extreme false accusations with the sole intention of causing undue harm is simply inhumane,” it continued. “They destroy the lives of the people who are wrongfully accused.”

In a statement for TheWrap, Zhang's attorneys said: “As we previously stated, there is absolutely no basis or truth to the allegations against Maria Zhang. Maria is an exemplary Yahoo executive, and we intend to fight vigorously to clear her name.”

“In Shi's case, the answer is simple: financial gain,” the cross-complaint stated. “Shi made false claims that Zhang coerced her into having sex so that Shi could extort Yahoo! Inc. for money.”

Zhang is the founder of a Seattle-based start-up company called Alike. Through Alike, Zhang created a mobile “app” for smartphone users that recommends nearby venues that are similar to ones that users have designated as their favorites. As of February 2013, Alike had five employees, including Shi. In February 2013, co-defendant Yahoo acquired Alike.

When Alike moved under Yahoo's umbrella, Shi struggled, the doc alleges, placing her job in jeopardy. After several documented complaints to the Human Resources department — though none involving sexual harassment initially — an investigation found no wrongdoing.