After Vote on CEO, 7 Humane Society Board Members Quit

Wayne Pacelle is accused of sexual misconduct
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2018 2:20 AM CST
7 Humane Society Board Members Quit in Protest
Wayne Pacelle speaks on the importance of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States' Proposition 2 celebration on January 5, 2015, in Los Angeles.   (Jeff Lewis/AP Images for the Humane Society of the United States)

After the 31-person board of the Humane Society of the United States met Thursday to address sexual harassment allegations against CEO Wayne Pacelle, Pacelle still had his job—but the board only had 24 members left. Seven board members, including author Suzy Welch, stepped down immediately after the board voted to keep Pacelle, the Washington Post reports. The meeting came after an outside law firm hired to investigate allegations against the longtime CEO identified three complaints of sexual harassment. The law firm also found that the Humane Society offered settlements to three workers who said they were fired or demoted after complaining about Pacelle's behavior.

Board member Erika Brunson tells the New York Times that she believes Pacelle did nothing wrong. "The CEO stays, and rightfully so," she says. "We're not an association that investigates sexual harassment. We raise funds for animals." The 83-year-old adds: "Which red-blooded male hasn't sexually harassed somebody?" Rachel Perman, a director of the Tofurky food company, says that after she emailed board members in November with concerns about Pacelle, Brunson said she was "out of her mind" and accused her of "airing her repressed sexual fantasies." Perman tells the Post that her company will stop donating to the Humane Society while Pacelle is still employed. Jim Greenbaum, founder of the Greenbaum Foundation, says the organization will not renew the $100,000 grant it made last year. (More Humane Society stories.)

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