Dan Price, a Seattle-based CEO who rose to national fame after bumping all his employees’ salaries to $70,000, entered not guilty pleas to misdemeanor assault and reckless driving in court Tuesday.

Price, CEO of credit card processor Gravity Payments, was charged in February with fourth-degree assault and reckless driving. City of Seattle prosecutors say Price cornered a woman in his Tesla after a dinner meeting, attempted to kiss her and then grabbed her throat when she refused. The woman, a 26-year-old who had met Price at a restaurant on Capitol Hill, said Price then drove her to a North Seattle parking lot, where he proceeded to drive “doughnuts” with her in the car.

Price appeared remotely Tuesday in Seattle Municipal Court. His attorney entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Assistant City Attorney Krystle Curley, who also appeared via video before Judge Andrea Chin, said the city had dropped a third charge, of misdemeanor assault with sexual motivation, previously filed against Price.

Despite objections from Price’s attorney, the judge entered an anti-harassment protection order against the CEO, barring him from contacting the alleged victim or coming within 1,000 feet of her. Mark Middaugh, the defense attorney, argued the protection order was unnecessary since Price hasn’t had contact with the woman since the night in January.

Price shot into the national spotlight in 2015 when he announced he would raise employee salaries at Gravity Payments to $70,000. At that time, the company’s 120 employees were paid an average salary of $48,000 a year. 


Price cut his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000, cementing a name for himself in the business world as a progressive CEO fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Today, he has a prominent voice on Twitter, where he describes himself as a “CEO just trying to stand up for the underdog.” 

His Twitter feed has been quiet since April 20, when The Seattle Times published a story detailing the charges following the January incident.

According to the original court filing, the woman told police she reached out to Price in December about meeting in person to discuss “professional matters.” The two met for dinner the next month and, the woman says, Price got drunk and later invited her to wait in his Tesla for her Uber to arrive because it was cold outside. The woman agreed and said as soon as she got in the car, Price tried to kiss her. When she pushed him away, he grabbed her throat but didn’t obstruct her airway.

The two then drove to the Northgate Park-and-Ride, where the woman was expecting to meet her boyfriend. Price began doing doughnuts in the upper parking lot, then tried to kiss the woman again, according to the charges. She claimed she pushed him away and he grabbed her throat a second time. 

The woman reported being scared because Price was driving while intoxicated.

The woman said she could still breathe but was terrified Price “would do something further,” the charging papers say.


Price then lay down in the back seat when her boyfriend picked her up, according to the charges.

This isn’t the first time Price has run into legal trouble. Around the time of the 2015 salary bump announcement, Price’s brother Lucas sued him for allegedly overpaying himself. Allegations that Price abused his ex-wife Kristie Colon also surfaced the same year. 

Last summer, flyers were spotted around Ballard, the headquarters for Gravity Payments, that read: “Have you been abused by Dan Price? We hear you. We believe you. We support you.”

On Tuesday, Chin ordered Price not to consume alcohol, cannabis or nonprescription drugs while the case is pending. Price is out of custody on personal recognizance. His next pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 1.