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Dan Price, CEO who cut his pay so workers earned $70,000, quits amid legal woes

A Seattle CEO who announced in 2015 that he was giving himself a drastic pay cut to help cover the cost of big raises for his employees has resigned — one day before an explosive news report alleging he had a pattern of abusing women.

Dan Price, CEO of credit card processing company Gravity Payments, resigned Wednesday, saying his "presence has become a distraction" at the company. "I also need to step aside from these duties to focus full time on fighting false accusations made against me," he wrote. "I'm not going anywhere."

Earlier this year, Seattle prosecutors charged Price with misdemeanor assault against a woman and reckless driving. Prosecutors say Price tried to forcibly kiss a woman. He pleaded not guilty in May, and the case remains ongoing.

The New York Times on Thursday reported that more than a dozen women have accused Price of what it called "predatory" encounters. His ex-wife, Kristie Colon, said that Price was physically abusive, and a woman Price dated, Kacie Margis, accused him of raping her, according to the Times. 

Price told the paper he "never physically or sexually abused anyone" and that "the other accusations of inappropriate behavior towards women in this story are simply false." He did not respond to a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch.

Seven years ago, Price stunned his 100-plus workers when he told them he was cutting his roughly $1 million salary to $70,000 and using company profits to ensure that everyone there would earn at least that much within three years. That amounted to a 46% jump from Gravity Payments' average annual salary at the time of $48,000. About 70 employees at the company saw raises, with 30 doubling their annual salaries.

"I'm so happy how people's lives are changing, because they deserve it, and they deserve every penny of it," Price said in 2016. "For me to make the sacrifice in the short term, I'd rather this than a vacation home in Palm Springs or the Hamptons. I guarantee that this will pay off."

Gravity Payments now pays employees a minimum wage of $80,000 per year, Price tweeted this week.

Price, 38, has run into other legal trouble. His brother Lucas sued him in 2015, alleging that Dan Price was overpaying himself and mismanaging the company. A King County judge ruled that Dan had not violated Lucas' rights as a minority shareholder.

CEO who gave all his employees minimum $70,000 paycheck thriving six years later 05:14

Allegations that Price had abused ex-wife Kristie Colon also surfaced that year. A Bloomberg report recounted an October 2015 TEDx talk given by Colon during which she described being beaten and waterboarded by her ex, without naming Price. Price told Bloomberg those events "never happened."

Chief operating officer Tammi Kroll will take over as Gravity Payments' CEO.

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