Back in June, independent wrestler Candy Cartwright (Samantha Tavel) accused Matt Riddle of sexually assaulting her in May 2018.
She wrote: "I'm posting this because I have been so sad for so long. I didn't realize that what he did to me was not ok. I realize now, reading these other brave women's stories, that I can't be afraid anymore and I have to #speakout.
"Back in May of 2018 I was riding with Matt Riddle and a few other wrestlers. During the van ride, when the 3 other wrestlers had fallen asleep, Matt asked me to "hop on his dick". When I refused (although we had previously been together I was incredibly uncomfortable in that setting ) When I said no, he grabbed me by my throat, choked me and said "what if I just made you?" I ended up giving him oral sex (praying someone wouldn't wake up) to get out of having intercourse with him. It was incredibly humiliating. It is never ok to put your hands on a woman, it's also not ok to not listen when she says no."
Riddle later denied the allegations against him and claimed Cartwright "fabricated" the sexual assault because she was mad about their affair coming to an end. The WWE Superstar also claimed Tavel had harassed him since the affair ended.
Riddle filed a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Stalking back on July 13. Riddle alleged Tavel committed stalking, previously threatened, harassed, stalked, cyberstalked or physically abused him, threatened to harm him or his family members, used or threatened to use weapons to harm him, and destroyed his personal property.
An Orange County court deemed there was not a "sufficient factual basis" to enter the injunction on July 27 and scheduled a hearing for September 9. Before the hearing could take place, Mr. Riddle filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal on September 7. You can find out more about the court case here.
Candy Cartwright issued a statement following the voluntary dismissal. The statement reads:
"Wrestler Samantha Tavel, represented by her attorney Allison S. Lovelady of Shullman Fugate PLLC, today responded to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestler Matt 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."