During a seven-hour conference call on Thursday, the Humane Society’s 31-person board voted to keep CEO Wayne Pacelle despite the sexual harassment allegations against him, losing seven board members in the process. One day later, they lost Pacelle, too. The New York Timesreports that as donors and employees began to revolt against the board’s move, Pacelle on Friday resigned the post he has held since 2004. The 52-year-old sent the staff an email that said “our mission depends on unity,” and as such, he would resign effective immediately so that the search for a replacement could begin. Among the allegations against Pacelle: 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.
Those allegations, which were being investigated by an outside law firm hired by the Humane Society, were reported on by the Washington Post. The Post reports that just two hours prior to Pacelle’s announcement, the board’s chair said in an email that while the allegations were “explosive … when we sifted through the evidence presented, we simply did not find that many of these allegations were supported by credible evidence.” Pacelle, for his part, has denied them. But a lobbyist who works for the organization said “women were still coming forward yesterday.” Kitty Block, president of Humane Society’s international arm, has been named acting chief executive.