"You believe these guys are the heroes," a former Humane Society employee says, that "they're going to be compassionate because they're speaking up for animals and you trust them." That trust was allegedly broken by at least two high-level animal-rights activists, including CEO Wayne Pacelle, at the nonprofit, reports Politico, which via emails, paperwork, and interviews with past and current workers exposes a reported pattern of sexual misconduct there. The Washington Post also digs in, specifically on allegations against Pacelle reaching back to 2005 that have surfaced as part of an outside law firm's investigation that began in December at the behest of the HS. Sources say the firm has uncovered three complaints of sexual harassment against Pacelle and offers of settlements to three other individuals who claim they were demoted or let go after they spoke up about his alleged transgressions.
Among the allegations: that he once asked an employee if he could masturbate in front of her and give her oral sex, and that a subordinate he'd had a relationship with said he became "abusive and controlling" after she ended things. He's also alleged to have had consensual sex with donors and volunteers. Meanwhile, Politico dives deeper into accusations against Paul Shapiro, a former HS VP. Shapiro is accused by at least a half-dozen women of trying to have sex with employees, emailing porn around the office, and making sexual jokes. Pacelle mostly denies the complaints, while Shapiro tells Politico "I've taken responsibility for inappropriate behavior years earlier in my career"; he says he's already been held accountable for the valid complaints and the rest are unfounded. (Read more Humane Society stories.)