By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Representatives for Samantha Tavel (a/k/a Candy Cartwright) issued the following statement on Friday.
ORANGE COUNTY, FL – Wrestler Samantha Tavel, represented by her attorney Allison S. Lovelady of Shullman Fugate PLLC, today responded to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler Matthew Riddle dismissing the claims he filed against her after she spoke out about being sexually assaulted by him. Riddle dismissed the injunction earlier this month, days before it was set to go to trial.
This June, Tavel came forward on Twitter to describe being sexually assaulted by Riddle in May of 2018. She was one of dozens of women who joined the #SpeakingOut movement on social media to draw attention to the culture of sexual harassment, abuse and misogyny at all levels of pro-wrestling.
Thereafter, Riddle filed a petition for injunction that included false accusations, including that Tavel attended an event in Orlando, Florida where Riddle was present, although she was not even in the state at the time. Riddle’s attorney, Daniel J. Rose, also posted a press release regarding the injunction on Twitter, which resulted in online harassment and retaliation against Tavel.
Tavel has also lost employment, including an opportunity to work with the WWE, and has struggled to find work since. Riddle continues to work for the WWE as a featured performer, and has even alluded to the allegations in his act.
“I’m relieved that these claims were dismissed, but the damage to my reputation and career remains. I came forward to prevent this from happening to other women, and will continue to fight for justice,” said Tavel. “It’s not easy to see my name smeared on social media or wake up to hate messages and threats. But I am speaking up because I was inspired by the brave women who came before me. My hope is that other victims of sexual violence feel empowered to share the truth about their experiences as I have done and will continue to do.”
Tavel is supported by the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund (TULDF). With support from TULDF, Tavel and her attorney were able to aggressively push back on the claims, resulting in their dismissal.
Powell’s POV: The Tavel response comes a day after Riddle’s attorney announced Riddle’s intention of filing a civil lawsuit against Tavel, who works as Candy Cartwright in pro wrestling. Tavel accused Riddle of asking her to engage in sex in a van while three other passengers were sleeping in May 2018. She claims that when she declined, he grabbed her by the neck and asked what if he forced her. She claims that she performed oral sex instead to avoid having intercourse with him. Riddle has acknowledged that he and Tavel had an affair, but he has denied her sexual assault claim.