ScoopWhoop's Sattvik Mishra accused of sexual assault by Samdish Bhatia
ScoopWhoop CEO Sattvik Mishra has reportedly resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct by former Unscripted anchor Samdish Bhatia. Bhatia on Tuesday said that he was sexually assaulted by Mishra in an inebriated state during a work meeting at the latter's Delhi residence last October. Denying the allegations, Mishra has leveled counter allegations of extortion against Bhatia. Here's all you need to know.
Bhatia—who has since started his own venture Unfiltered—said in a social media post on Tuesday that he was sexually assaulted by Mishra. He said he had been infantilized, threatened, and offered hush money. He said he has been asked to "get over this misunderstanding" by his former employers, who have now resorted to "mudslinging and harassment."
Bhatia had first announced his departure from ScoopWhoop citing "unfortunate circumstances." In a viral social media post dated January 14, 2022, regarding his exit, Bhatia had said that he was assaulted. Without naming anyone, he had said, "I have been infantilized, disrespected, gaslighted, and till date denied my truth. There is a very big chance that they will come at me after this."
Bhatia had reportedly filed a complaint with ScoopWhoop's internal complaints committee. The complaint—dated October 20, 2021, accessed by Newslaundry—said that Bhatia had a meeting with Mishra on October 7 that went on until past midnight. The meeting was regarding "the restructuring, organizational structure, equity, stakes, etc.," according to Bhatia. Nthrotably, ScoopWhoop was acquired by Good Glamm in October.
The meeting began at 5:30 pm where Bhatia and Mishra discussed the future of Unscripted. While Bhatia negotiated for a 25% equity stake in a spin-off company, WhoopScoop Media Private Limited, Mishra offered a 7.5% stake. ScoopWhoop creative director Avalok Langer was also invited to the meeting, which later shifted to a bar and eventually to Mishra's home.
Apparently, Langer went home from the bar, but Bhatia and Mishra went to Mishra's home. At his home, Mishra allegedly asked Bhatia for a kiss in exchange for his demand and flashed him his privates. "In exact words 'tujhe equity chaiye to ek chummi to de de'. On October 10, Mishra texted an apology to Bhatia for his "conduct," but didn't mention sexual assault.
Bhatia's complaint said he felt "threatened," "violated," and "unsafe." According to the complaint, Mishra's wife and ScoopWhoop co-founder Sriparna Tikekar was present in the house at the time, along with the couple's infant daughter, and nanny. It said, "Mr. Mishra made unwanted, unsolicited, and uncalled [for] sexual advances and sexually predatory behavior of criminal and civil consequences and is in violation of the law."
Mishra—who resigned as CEO on February 6 citing "personal reasons"—told Newslaundry, "What Samdish [Bhatia] alleges never happened." Mishra admitted the two were drunk, but he doesn't recall the conversation having sexual undertones. He said he thought he was drinking in a "safe space" with a friend he had known for years. Any morally upright person will apologize for being a "bad drunk," he added.
Bhatia had turned aggressive after his equity demands, Mishra said, describing him as "greedy." Mishra said the anchor had gone on a "narcissistic rant" about how Unscripted is nothing without him. Bhatia had also demanded the termination of an employee, who "copies his style," Mishra said. He said he regrettably turned "aggressive" and tried to push an abusive Bhatia out of his house.
Bhatia rubbished Mishra's allegations and questioned as to why his alleged misbehavior against Mishra was never reported to the employer. The night of the alleged assault, Bhatia had called a friend, who corroborated his version of events, Newslaundry reported. Bhatia said his former employers refused to conduct an investigation into the sexual assault allegations to prevent harm to ScoopWhoop's deal with Good Glamm.
Bhatia had presented three demands—Mishra's immediate termination as CEO, an "impartial" investigation, and an ICC without Tikekar. However, he said he was allegedly offered equity stake for compliance. Meanwhile, Mishra accused Bhatia of trying to extort Rs. 7 crore from him. On January 19, WhoopScoop had filed a civil suit before the Patiala House court seeking permanent and temporary injunctions against Bhatia and Mishra.
The court had refused to impose the injunctions during the first hearing on January 22. On February 1—a minute before the second court hearing—Bhatia was informed by WhoopScoop's 'Grievance Team' that a "preliminary hearing" into his allegations will be heard on February 4. The third court hearing is on February 10. (Source: Newslaundry)