(CTN News) – WWE’s Vince McMahon faces allegations of sexual assault, trafficking, and physical and emotional abuse against a former employee.
Janel Grant’s lawsuit, which alleges Vince McMahon commanded her to have sex with a WWE “superstar” and other men, seeks to overturn a nondisclosure agreement she claims she signed with McMahon in 2022.
According to Grant’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, billionaire McMahon agreed to pay her $3 million as part of the bargain, but only paid her $1 million in exchange for her silence about his conduct.
In addition to Vince McMahon, who is 78, the complaint names WWE and John Laurinaitis, the company’s former head of talent relations and general manager, as defendants.
The complaint comes six months after federal officials executed a search warrant on Vince McMahon and handed him with a grand jury subpoena as part of an investigation into McMahon’s millions of dollars in payments to many women, including Grant, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Vince McMahon, who resigned from WWE positions in mid-2022 due to an internal company inquiry, only to return as its head in early 2023, paid WWE $17.4 million in March to cover the costs of a review into those reimbursements by a legal firm hired by the corporation.
McMahon is the executive chairman of TKO Group Holdings, which was founded last year by a merger of his wrestling firm and UFC, a mixed martial arts corporation. He owns a large number of TKO Group shares.
Grant’s attorney, Ann Callis, said in a statement, “Today’s complaint seeks to hold accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked Plaintiff Janel Grant, as well as the organisation that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse and then swept it under the rug.”
“She is an incredibly private and courageous person who has suffered deeply at the hands of Vince McMahon and Mr. Laurinaitis,” he stated. “Ms. Grant hopes her case will keep other women from being victimised.
The organisation is well aware of Mr. McMahon’s history of disgusting behaviour, and it is time for them to accept responsibility for their leadership’s misbehaviour.”
McMahon’s spokesman described the complaint as “replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth.”
“He will vigorously defend himself,” the spokesperson stated.
According to a TKO Group spokeswoman, “Vince McMahon does not control TKO nor oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE.”
“While this matter pre-dates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally,” a representative for TKO stated.
TKO Group announced on Tuesday that Netflix will pay $5 billion over 10 years to watch WWE’s flagship programme “Raw,” as well as carry all other WWE shows and specials outside the US.
A WWE spokeswoman did not immediately return calls for comment on Grant’s lawsuit.
According to the complaint, McMahon befriended Grant, his neighbour in an apartment block, in 2019 after learning from the resident management that her parents had died and she was seeking for work.
Grant claims that Vince McMahon quickly pressed her into a sexual connection, to which she succumbed.
“When McMahon pushed Ms. Grant for a physical relationship in return for long-promised employment at WWE, she felt trapped in an impossible situation: submitting to McMahon’s sexual demands or facing ruin,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint further states that: “Given McMahon’s omnipotent position at WWE, coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved sexual demands.”
“Specifically, while McMahon was CEO of WWE and Ms. Grant was employed as an entry level coordinator in the legal department, McMahon recruited individuals to have sexual relations with Ms. Grant and/or with the two of them, directed Ms. Grant to visit Defendant Laurinaitis prior to the start of workdays for sexual encounters, and expected and directed Ms. Grant to engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, even during working hours,” according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, McMahon subjected Grant to “extreme cruelty and degradation” that forced her to become “numb to reality in order to survive the horrific encounters.”
According to the lawsuit, McMahon told Grant in January 2022 that he could no longer speak to her or be seen in the same room with her because his wife, Linda McMahon, had learned of their connection.
“Purportedly to avoid divorce, negative publicity, and other repercussions, Vince McMahon said that Ms. Grant’s time at WWE was at an end, but that he wanted her to sign an NDA to ensure her silence on, among other things, his personal misconduct,” according to the lawsuit.
McMahon’s wife, Linda McMahon, a former top WWE executive, plays a role in the alleged cover-up.
Linda McMahon, a former WWE executive, was the head of the Small Business Administration under former President Donald Trump, who has also performed at WWE events.
The suit claimed that in November 2022, WWE announced the conclusion of a “Special Committee” inquiry into Vince McMahon’s alleged sexual misconduct with women.
“Yet the Special Committee never even bothered to interview Ms. Grant or request any documents despite Ms. Grant stating that she would cooperate,” according to the complaint.
In addition to attempting to nullify the NDA, Grant’s lawsuit claims violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, carelessness, deliberate or negligent infliction of mental distress, and civil violence.
The lawsuit, which seeks specific monetary damages, claims that the defendants’ “predatory conduct” has left Ms. Grant disabled, both physically and emotionally, including debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation.