Former WWE employee accuses Vince McMahon of abuse, sexual exploitation
STAMFORD, Conn. (WISH) — A former WWE employee is alleging she was abused and sexually exploited by then-CEO Vince McMahon, saying she was trafficked to men “as a pawn to secure talent deals” with wrestlers who were prospective hires for the company, according to new reporting from the Wall Street Journal, citing a federal lawsuit.
The woman, Janel Grant, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported. It names McMahon, WWE, and former head of talent relations John Laurinaitis as defendants.
In the filing, Grant alleges that McMahon, Laurinaitis, and the company violated a federal law, the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act, the Wall Street Journal reported. The outlet said her claims included civil battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, saying that she claimed the abuse had been ongoing “in relation to years-long sexual and emotional abuse.”
Reps for WWE and McMahon did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted.
The WWE is no stranger to sexual conduct allegations made against McMahon. An investigation by the company’s board in 2022 into alleged hush-money payments made by McMahon, at the time the company’s CEO, caused him to step down as the company’s chief executive.
Last year, McMahon returned to head up efforts to sell WWE, which merged with the UFC to become TKO Holdings, Inc. McMahon was executive chairman at the time.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Grant accuses McMahon and Laurinaitis of both engaging in sexual assault and trafficking of Grant “both for their own pleasure and as a pawn to secure talent deals with prospective wrestlers they were recruiting” while on WWE property and using WWE funding.
Citing the lawsuit, the Wall Street Journal reports that the men “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 also alleges McMahon threatened Grant with promises to disseminate pornography of Grant to “thousands” of people and engaging in sex acts with other WWE employees if she did not capitulate to his sexual demands.
Grant was forced to resign upon McMahon’s wife learning of the relation and pressured to sign an NDA, promising that McMahon would pay her $3 million; McMahon refused later to make payments, the Wall Street Journal reported.