TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Vince McMahon has resigned as chairman of TKO Group amid allegations of sex trafficking and abuse in a federal lawsuit filed on Thursday.
According to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, Janel Grant, who worked at the company’s headquarters, alleged that McMahon sexually exploited her and attempted to traffic her to other WWE employees.
The 67-page complaint details years of alleged abuse, largely at the hands of McMahon, 77, and the company’s former head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis. In 2022, McMahon abruptly “stepped away” from the company and announced his retirement after WWE’s board of directors launched an investigation into suspected “hush money” payments and misconduct and involving both men.
In a statement provided to News Channel 8 via a TKO spokesperson, McMahon said Friday: “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.”
McMahon added that out of respect for the WWE and TKO’s business/shareholders, he would resign immediately.
According to the lawsuit, the manager of Grant’s apartment building introduced her to McMahon in 2019, hoping to get her a job, because she was “dealing with profound grief and struggling financially” after she lost her parents. McMahon was accused of showering her with praise and gifts as he “dangled career-making and life-changing promises” in front of her.
McMahon was accused of sharing explicit photos and videos of Grant with men “both inside and outside of the company,” including “a world-famous athlete and former UFC Heavyweight Champion with whom WWE was actively trying to sign to a new contract (and ultimately did sign that contract),” beginning in March 2020. Sources “familiar with the matter” told the Wall Street Journal, who first reported the lawsuit, that the company was courting Brock Lesnar for an in-ring return at the time.
As an entry-level employee, Grant alleged in the lawsuit that she was coerced into performing sexual acts with multiple people at WWE headquarters during work hours, including being made to report to Laurinaitis “prior to the start of workdays for sexual encounters.”
The lawsuit alleged McMahon subjected her to “extreme depravity” in their encounters. In 2021, Grant claimed McMahon and Laurinaitis forced themselves on her and sexually assaulted her in a WWE office.
The suit claims Grant was pressured by McMahon to sign a non-disclosure agreement in 2022, after she was let go from the company. He claimed his wife, Linda McMahon, a member of former President Donald Trump’s cabinet, found out about his relationship with Grant.
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