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Pro Wrestling

Former WWE Employee Sues Vince McMahon For Sexual Abuse And Trafficking

4:46 PM EST on January 25, 2024

January 23rd, 2024. New York Stock Exchange Ceremony Announcing Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has joined the Board of Directors for TKO. New York, New York. Vince McMahon at the podium.
Michelle Farsi/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, former WWE employee Janel Grant has filed a sex trafficking lawsuit against Vince McMahon, WWE, and WWE’s former head of talent relations John Laurinaitis detailing years of sexual abuse and exploitation. Grant, one of the four women whom WWE reportedly paid several million dollars in hush money, was anonymous until Thursday, when she filed her lawsuit. Though the previous settlements included a non-disclosure agreement, Grant claims in her suit that WWE stopped making payments after the first installment, so she's seeking unspecified financial damages as well as the voiding of that original agreement.

Grant alleges in her lawsuit that she met McMahon in 2019, when they were living in the same building. She was looking for a job and dealing with the death of her parents, and McMahon hired her that year. According to the suit, "he pressured her into sexual activities in return for employment and warned her to stay quiet about their interactions." Grant said that McMahon's sexual demands increased and became increasingly violent, and he began forcing her to have sex with other WWE employees in early 2020. From the report:

In March 2020, McMahon began sharing sexually explicit photographs and videos of Grant with other men, including other WWE executives and a former UFC heavyweight champion with whom WWE was actively trying to sign to a new contract, according to the suit. In a May 2020 encounter, McMahon defecated on her head during a threesome, the suit said.

WSJ

Grant alleges that McMahon and other executives forcibly sexually assaulted her several times throughout 2020 and 2021, locking her in various rooms of the WWE offices in June 2021 and threatening her and blackmailing her into silence with explicit photographs and videos. The aforementioned former UFC heavyweight champion isn't named in the suit, but the Journal's sources identify him as Brock Lesnar, for whom McMahon forced Grant to "create personalized sexual content" the month after multiple alleged assaults in the WWE offices by McMahon and Laurinaitis. Lesnar signed in August 2021, the same month McMahon allegedly texted Grant "that part of the deal was f—ing U." Per the suit, McMahon gave Grant's number to Lesnar, who then sent her demeaning messages and demanded she send a video of herself urinating.

McMahon's wife Linda discovered the arrangement in January 2022, and McMahon then pressured Grant into signing the NDA, threatening her with the release of explicit videos if she didn't sign. She signed the NDA, though according to her lawsuit, McMahon "forced Grant to perform oral sex on him the last time they met and then attempted to traffic her to the WWE star in March 2022. She texted the star explicit photos as directed by McMahon, but they didn’t meet."

McMahon has been the subject of a federal investigation into the payouts. Agents seized his phone in July 2023 and served him with a grand jury subpoena, though he hasn't been charged. On Tuesday, McMahon was part of a group from TKO, the new joint parent company of the UFC and WWE, that rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. That same day, the company announced that they'd signed a 10-year, $5 billion deal with Netflix. McMahon was briefly ousted from the organization in 2022 after news of the payments first came to light, but he returned shortly afterward, following an internal investigation and the repayment of some of the hush money. Neither he, Laurinaitis, or Lesnar issued any comment to the Journal.

In her suit, Grant said that the investigation was a "sham," as investigators didn't even speak to her or request documents after she volunteered to cooperate. She said that many within WWE knew about McMahon's misconduct, yet chose to protect him rather than further the investigation.

[Wall Street Journal]

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