Let's hope Humane Society treats animals better than women

The Humane Society of the United States finds itself caught up in the world of sexual harassment scandals. The non-profit’s board of directors has hired a Washington law firm to look into accusations leveled at CEO Wayne Pacelle.

An outside law firm has investigated allegations against CEO Wayne Pacelle that date back to 2005, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post. The memo details a perception, based on 33 interviews, that women could get ahead in the workplace by becoming romantically involved with Pacelle. One of the women reported that Pacelle, on a work trip in 2006, asked her to take off her clothes and perform oral sex, and asked her whether he could masturbate in front of her. Pacelle has denied the allegations.

Pacelle is still employed at the organization.

He joined the Humane Society in 1994, became its chief executive in 2004, and was paid about $380,000 in 2016, according to the charity’s latest IRS filing.

Former Vice President of Policy, Paul Shapiro, is no longer with the non-profit but his story precedes that of Pacelle’s. Like Pacelle, he denies his latest allegation.

Shapiro is accused of sexually harassing a 26-year-old employee during a 2016 work trip. Shapiro allegedly stripped to his underwear in plain sight while changing clothes, tried to get the woman to share a small couch with him and leaned out of the bathroom holding only a bunched-up pair of boxer briefs to cover his genitalia. Shapiro later encouraged another female employee to “take one for the team” by having sex with a donor.”

Shapiro does admit to abusive behavior in the past, though. He claims he was stripped of the department he managed, his staff, and left with no budget. He continued working there for 16 months before leaving. Are we to feel sorry for Shapiro’s fall from grace? Of course not. The guy seems to be doing ok despite his admissions.

Shapiro has built a reputation as a leading voice in the ethical food movement, helping to shift public attitudes about industrial farms. His new book, Clean Meat, which opened in the top 10 on the Washington Post’s nonfiction best-seller list and received positive reviews in the Wall Street Journal and other major publications, makes the case to cultivate meat in labs as a means to end factory farming.

One woman didn’t fare as well as Shapiro. Ashley Rhinehart first met Shapiro as a volunteer in Phoenix. She claims he harassed her not long after that and continued doing so even after she became an employee of the Humane Society. She also was approached by Pacelle but rebuked him and notified Shapiro, who was her superior. Pacelle told her it was normal behavior from Shapiro and “boys will be boys”. She left after Shapiro was demoted and is still looking for employment.

That’s a whole lot of sleaze coming from an organization devoted to our four-legged friends. Hopefully, the bad guys will be replaced with a better breed.