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MATT RIDDLE LAWSUIT UPDATE

By Mike Johnson on 2021-03-26 17:15:00

After having his attempt to dismiss the lawsuit brought against him by independent wrestler Samantha Tavel (Candy Cartwright) fail when the court denied the request, WWE United States Champion Matt Riddle was ordered to respond to Tavel's lawsuit by 4/14 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

The two sides have also been ordered to provide the court with a proposed discovery scheduled by 4/21.  Discovery is the process where the two parties are required to exchange information that may help their respective case against the other.

Tavel filed a lawsuit in October 2020 against Riddle, World Wrestling Entertainment, the now-defunct EVOLVE promotion and Gabe Sapolsky, seeking $10 million from each defendant, stemming from Tavel's allegations, which initially became public during the Speaking Out movement online during the summer of 2020, claiming Riddle allegedly choked and forced her to perform oral sex on him in May 2018.    Tavel's lawsuit stated the incident took place on a bus that was leaving EVOLVE 104 in Summit, Illinois, hence the lawsuit was being filed before Cook County Court.   It also alleges that Riddle effectively prevented her from being able to be booked for WWE dates.

Earlier this week, the court dismissed WWE and Gabe Sapolsky as defendants in the civil lawsuit, stating that their connection to the allegations could not be proven.

In Riddle's December 2020 motion to have the Tavel lawsuit dismissed, Riddle stated that he and Tavel entered into an extra-marital affair in April 2017 after meeting while performing for EVOLVE at an event in New York City.  They continued to maintain that relationship until Riddle's wife learned of it, at which point, Riddle claims he ended his relationship with Tavel.  In that filing Riddle alleged, "Ms. Tavel had a hard time accepting the end of the relationship, and Mr. Riddle changed his telephone number more than once to avoid her calls. Mr. Riddle had no control over any employment relationship Ms. Tavel had with Evolve or WWE."

Tavel remained working for EVOLVE in some fashion until the promotion shut down in the wake of financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the cancellation of their Tampa, Florida events Wrestlemania 36 weekend.  WWE later purchased the assets of EVOLVE, Inc., including its tape library.

In regard to Tavel's accusations, Riddle's December 2020 filing, as you might imagine, denied any wrongdoing on his part, stating, "Mr. Riddle emphatically denies Ms. Tavel’s torrid tale. He and Ms. Tavel had a nearly three-year affair during which they engaged only in consensual sexual activity. In July 2019, Mr. Riddle ended the affair after his wife learned of the relationship. In June 2020, Ms. Tavel tweeted an accusation that he sexually assaulted her in a van while other wrestlers were asleep."

The filing makes mention of two different alleged incidents:

"Ms. Tavel pleads two specific alleged assaults – one in April 2017 and one on May 19, 2018 – but no facts that tie these alleged injuries to Illinois."

The April 2017 alleged incident is referenced in Riddle's motion, noting, "Mr. Riddle believe [The April 2017] allegation refers to a consensual sexual encounter the couple had in a car on or about April 23, 2017 in New York City after an Evolve event. Mr. Riddle was not in Illinois in April 2017 and did not purposefully direct his activities at any Illinois residents in April 2017."

Riddle also specifically responded to Tavel's allegations that he assaulted her on 5/19/18 in Illinois following the EVOLVE 104 event in the December 2020 motion.  Riddle stated that he did perform that evening at EVOLVE 104 in Illinois and that Tavel was at the event as well.  Riddle stated that a videographer named Joseph M. Ranta transported numerous performers from the venue to their hotel in Michigan in his van (Tavel's claims have made reference to a bus, but her initial Tweet referred to a van with sleeping EVOLVE wrestlers), as there was another EVOLVE event in Livonia, Michigan the next day. 

Riddle's response was accompanied an affidavit filed by Ranta as well as photos of the exterior and interior of Ranta's van. 

Ranta's affidavit stated that on the evening in question, then-EVOLVE talents Keith Lee, Anthony Henry and JD Drake were also in the van with Drake sitting in the front passenger seat, Henry and Lee in the center seats and Riddle and Tavel in the back seats.   

The records from Ranta's GPS on the evening in question were also filed as evidence, noting they left the Summit Park District in IL on 5/20/18 IL at 12:26 AM,  They stopped for gas and left that gas station at 12:34 AM, then drove 33 miles to a Denny's Restaurant, arriving in Portage, Indiana at 1:22 AM (48 minutes later), stating that they entered Indiana 36 minutes into their drive, around 1:10 AM.   Ranta's affidavit stated that out of all the passengers, only Keith Lee fell asleep during the drive to Denny's and that the other four passengers were awake.   

Ranta's affidavit then stated everyone exited the Denny's at 2:35 AM, driving 2 hours, 37 minutes to Ranta's home in Mason, Michigan.   Ranta stated that Drake, Lee and Henry had all fallen asleep during that drive, with himself, Riddle and Tavel all being awake the entire ride.  Ranta stated he, Tavel and Riddle spent 12 minutes at Ranta's home before he drove everyone to The Comfort Inn Metro Airport near Detroit, Michigan where the wrestlers were staying.  The affidavit does not mention that any alleged assault took place, but also does not deny one happened. 

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If you or someone you know needs assistance, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-4673

PREVIOUS RIDDLE-CARTWRIGHT COVERAGE

WWE, GABE SAPOLSKY REMOVED FROM SAMANTHA TAVEL LAWSUIT
by Mike Johnson
3/24/2021 12:44 PM

GABE SAPOLSKY RESPONDS TO SAMANTHA TAVEL LAWSUIT, FILES MOTION TO DISMISS
by Mike Johnson
1/18/2021 2:00 PM

MATT RIDDLE FILES MOTION TO DISMISS SAMANTHA TAVEL LAWSUIT, FULL DETAILS
by Mike Johnson
12/8/2020 1:03 PM

UPDATED SECOND TIME INCLUDING WWE STATEMENT- LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST MATT RIDDLE, WWE AND MORE BY WRESTLER CANDY CARTWRIGHT OVER ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULTS, CARTWRIGHT ALSO SEEKING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
by Mike Johnson @ 7:11 PM on 10/8/2020

WWE STAR MATT RIDDLE FILING CIVIL LAWSUIT AGAINST CANDY CARTWRIGHT IN WAKE OF ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM
by Mike Johnson
9/17/2020 4:14 PM

MATT RIDDLE RELEASES VIDEO RESPONDING TO SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS
by Mike Johnson
7/8/2020 12:12 PM

 

 

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