Humane Society CEO Resigns Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, announced his resignation on Friday a day after sexual misconduct accusations from a staff member against him were made public.

Reasa Huggard Currier, 37, reported back in December that Pacelle forcibly kissed her when she was working as an intern back in 2005. The claim prompted an investigation where two additional women came forward: one woman claimed in 2006 that he offered her oral sex and asked to masturbate in front of her and a sexon accuser who approached her at her office late at night, asking to go "salsa dancing."

The investigation concluded on Thursday with Pacelle being cleared of all charges, stating that because the investigation had leaked to the media its integrity had been jeopardized.

"Many of these allegations were explosive in nature, and reading or hearing about them is a shock to anyone," Chairman Eric Bernthal wrote in a company email. "It was to us, too. But when we sifted through the evidence presented, we simply did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence."

The decision for him to stay reportedly outraged donors and prompted seven of the company's 31 board members to resign.

The outrage only grew stronger when board member Erika Brunson defended Pacelle in an interview with The New York Times.

"The CEO stays and rightfully so," Brunson said. "We're not an association that investigates sexual harassment. We raise funds for animals. Which red-blooded male hasn't sexually harassed somebody? Women should be able to take care of themselves."

Pacelle announced later Friday afternoon that he was stepping down regardless of the board's decision. He also suggested a woman be the one to take his place.

"We need to come together," Pacelle said. "Our mission depends on unity. For that reason, I am recommending that the board launch a search for a successor. I am resigning, effective immediately, to allow that process to move forward expeditiously and to put aside any distractions, in the best interests of all parties."

Currier spoke with The Daily Mail on Friday, claiming that more than a dozen women came to her with stories of harassment from Pacelle.

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"It's just a sense of tragedy," Currier said. "We are an organization that is rooted in goodness... for our leader to abuse his power just diminishes everything."