Vince McMahon Accused of Trafficking and Sexual Abuse in Lawsuit Filed by Former WWE Employee, Federal Investigation Underway (UPDATE)

Janel Grant has accused McMahon of promising to pay her $3 million after signing an NDA.

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UPDATED 2/2, 12:25 p.m. ET: Vince McMahon is under investigation following a lawsuit accusing him of sex trafficking and sexual misconduct.

Per The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have been investigating the WWE founder for months amid allegations from multiple women who previously worked for the company. Last summer, the 78-year-old's phone was searched by federal agents who were tasked with finding any evidence of "rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, commercial sex transaction, harassment or discrimination" against employees of WWE.

Janel Grant—who filed the recent lawsuit against McMahon, his company, and former WWE head of talent relations John Laurinaitis—was named in the grand jury subpoena alongside four other women who leveled similar allegations against him. Some of the women have also been interviewed by federal agents as part of the investigation.

UPDATED 1/26/24, 9:20 p.m. ET: Vince McMahon has stepped down from WWE and its parent company TKO Group following allegations of sexual abuse and trafficking.

On Friday night, WWE president Nick Khan sent an e-mail to staff that said Vince “has tendered his resignation from his positions as TKO Executive Chairman and on the TKO Board of Directors. He will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or WWE."

Major news. Vince McMahon resigned from all roles with TKO.

The following was sent to some staff

— Sean Ross Sapp of (@SeanRossSapp) January 27, 2024
Twitter: @SeanRossSapp

Shortly after news broke of his resignation, a statement was released from McMahon himself confirming it.

“I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant’s lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth. I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name," his statement reads, according to Deadline.

His statement continued, “However, out of respect for the WWE Universe, the extraordinary TKO business and its board members and shareholders, partners and constituents, and all of the employees and Superstars who helped make WWE into the global leader it is today, I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effectively immediately.”

This isn't the first time McMahon has stepped down from his duties. He did the same thing in 2022 after he was alleged to have made hush money payments and went through a misconduct probe led by the WWE board. The professional wrestling mogul was still the WWE’s controlling shareholder, and rejoined the company last year.

See original story below.

Former WWE employee Janel Grant has filed a lawsuit against its founder Vince McMahon, accusing him of sexual abuse and trafficking during his time as the company's CEO.

Per Variety, Grant filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on Thursday, January 25. She has named McMahon, WWE, and John Laurinaitis, the former WWE head of talent relations, as defendants in the suit. She accused McMahon of trafficking her "as a pawn to secure talent deals" while recruiting wrestlers for the WWE.

McMahon "repeatedly used sex toys named after other WWE employees, wrestlers and performers to sexually groom Ms. Grant for trafficking to those same people," the lawsuit alleges. Grant added that the alleged abuse happened on WWE property. He has also been accused of showering her with gifts and "empty work promotions" while "threatening her livelihood and her reputation if she wouldn’t succumb to his increasingly depraved sexual demands, including disseminating pornography of Ms. Grant to ‘thousands’ of individuals and engaging in sex acts with other WWE employees—some of whom were complete strangers."

The lawsuit accused McMahon of recruiting "individuals to have sexual relations with Ms. Grant and/or with the two of them," and directing Ms. Grant to "visit Defendant Laurinaitis prior to the start of workdays for sexual encounters," while expecting and directing Ms. Grant to "engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, even during working hours."

Per The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit cites a text from July 2020 from McMahon in which he told other WWE employees, who said they wanted to pursue sexual encounters with Grant after seeing nude photos of her, "She may scream and try to say NO!! although it would B difficult to say anything with a c**k down her throat." The lawsuit also accuses McMahon of defecating on Grant during a threesome and then demanding her to "continue pleasuring his 'friend'" as he went to have a shower.

The 78-year-old is said to have pressured her to resign and sign an NDA after his wife, 75-year-old Linda McMahon, learned of his relationship with her. She was told to sign the NDA under the promise he would "'protect her' financially and reputationally," including a $3 million payout that she says she never received. She did, however, receive $1 million in February 2022 but he "failed to make any further payments."

In a statement, Grant's attorney Ann Callis said, "Today’s complaint seeks to hold accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked Plaintiff Janel Grant, as well as the organization that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse and then swept it under the rug."

In June 2022, McMahon stepped down as WWE CEO after an investigation found that he agreed to pay $3 million to a former employee he had an affair with. In total, he was found to have made over $19 million in payments to former employees over alleged sexual misconduct. Around the same time, retired wrestling referee Rita Chatterton alleged that McMahon raped her in 1986. Laurinaitis was also named in the investigation.

McMahon returned to the company in January 2023 to shop WWE to potential buyers, which resulted in a merger with UFC.

The lawsuit comes just days after WWE announced a long-term partnership with Netflix, making the streamer the exclusive home of Raw starting January 2025.

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