Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle has been accused of sexual harassment by three women who say they were fired or demoted after they reported his misconduct, according to an internal investigation.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that an internal investigation at the organization conducted by the law firm Morgan Lewis found that warnings about Pacelle's conduct from women at top positions in the company were ignored and that the company had offered at least three settlements to women over similar complaints.
A memo generated by the investigation and obtained by the Post also says high-ranking women warned that Pacelle was engaged in sexual activity with donors, volunteers and subordinates and that there was a perception in the organization that some women in the nonprofit owed their positions to sexual relationships with Pacelle.
Pacelle flatly denied the allegations and characterized the investigation as an attack on the charity in a statement to the Post.
“This is a coordinated attempt to attack me and the organization,” he said. “And I absolutely deny any suggestion that I did anything untoward.”
Pacelle called allegations in the memo that he was engaged in sexual relationships with Humane Society donors or volunteers as "just ad hominem attacks," adding that he was never warned by women in senior positions at the company about any behavior toward subordinates.
“Absolutely not. I enjoy the support of senior women throughout the organization. No one has ever warned me of such a thing, ever," Pacelle said.
The Humane Society declined to comment on the investigation or "rumors" in a statement to the Post.
“We do not have information that can be shared regarding the investigation, its findings, or board actions at this time,” the statement said. “We believe it is important to deal in substance and not rumors, and our process is designed to ensure confidentiality and fair consideration of these issues.”