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Matt Riddle’s accuser announces $10 million lawsuits against him, Evolve & WWE

Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via Twitter

The ongoing story of Candy Cartwright’s #SpeakingOut allegation that Matt Riddle sexually assaulted her during their affair continued yesterday (Oct. 8). Cartwright - whose real name is Samantha Tavel - and her lawyer John Chwarzynski held a press conference in Chicago to announce their plans to sue Riddle, WWE, Evolve and Gabe Sapolsky for $10 million each.

Both WWE and former Evolve chief Sapolsky denied having been served in the hours after the press conference.

Cartwright’s original claim, shared on Twitter at the start of the #SpeakingOut movement and hours before Riddle was set to make his main roster debut on SmackDown, focused on an “incredibly humiliating” 2018 incident where the former UFC fighter allegedly threatened her if she didn’t comply with his request for sex. Chwarzynski, of Chicago-based personal injury firm Hale & Monica, said that was one of “a multitude of sexual assaults committed by Matt Riddle against my client, Candi Cartwright” during the course of their three year relationship. Specific allegations include an April 2017 rape after a show in Brooklyn that Riddle is said to have boasted about to Sapolsky and others, and a claim Cartwright had WWE and Evolve bookings cancelled in January of this year after Riddle asked the companies not to use her because she denied his requests for sex.

At the press conference, Chwarzynski said he plans to ask the Illinois State Attorney and the police department where the 2018 incident allegedly took place to open investigations into Riddle for possible criminal charges. The suit targets pro wrestling culture as a whole; Chwarzynski said, “WWE has painted a picture over the course of the years that female performers are to comply with certain rules. The WWE, since its inception, has hyper-sexualized female performers and they’ve profited from male aggression against these female performers.”

Riddle has twice denied the allegations, once in a video statement admitting to his extramarital affair with Cartwright. His representative told Fightful he plans to countersue. Riddle’s team has already attempted to file a restraining order against his accuser, but voluntarily withdrew it after a response from Cartwright’s lawyer (at that point representation provided by the National Women’s Law Center, not Hale & Monica).

WWE hadn’t commented on the situation since Cartwright’s initial claims, but responded to the news of this filing by saying, “WWE has not been served with a lawsuit by Ms. Tavel. However, if served, we will vigorously defend ourselves and contest it.”

Several sites have pointed out errors in Cartwright’s suit, including the date of Riddle signing with WWE and the nature of Evolve’s relationship with WWE prior to the former’s acquisition by the latter this summer.

This is a complicated, ongoing story. But one key takeaway is that any hopes WWE had it would “just go away” appear to have been dashed.

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