Vince McMahon Accused Of Sex Trafficking By Former WWE Employee
Serious allegations made against Vince McMahon
WARNING: This article contains accounts of alleged sexual assault, sex trafficking, and emotional abuse.
Former WWE owner and current TKO Executive Chairman of the Board Vince McMahon has been accused of sex trafficking, sexual assault, and physical and emotional abuse in a new lawsuit filed by a former WWE employee. Former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis and WWE have also been named as defendants in the suit.
Janel Grant, a former WWE employee who worked for the company between June 2019 and March 2022, states in the lawsuit that she first met Vince McMahon in March 2019 after a friend asked McMahon if he could help her find employment.
After an initial meeting, the lawsuit claims that McMahon offered to secure Grant a job with WWE and during several meetings about a potential job, McMahon allegedly demonstrated "an increasing lack of boundaries" by greeting her in his underwear, repeatedly asking for hugs, touching her, and spending hours sharing details about his personal life. McMahon then allegedly began to push Grant for a physical relationship in return for employment and she began as an "administrator-coordinator" in WWE's legal department in June 2019 after "succumbing to the pressure for a physical relationship." Grant was later transferred to Talent Relations in March 2021 under John Laurinaitis.
The sexual relationship with Vince McMahon continued after Grant's employment and she states that she tried to end the relationship and "she had no idea how sordid it would become, nor how the psychological torture and physical violence would leave her feeling helpless, isolated and trapped."
It is alleged that McMahon shared sexually explicit photographs and videos of Grant with other men within and outside of WWE. This includes WWE producers, executives, members of the TV production team, and "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)." While Vince McMahon was CEO of WWE, he also allegedly recruited individuals to have sexual relations with Grant, including John Laurinaitis.
After being transferred to work under John Laurinaitis, the lawsuit alleges that "forcible touching and overtly sexual behaviors became part of daily life when he was in the office. On numerous occasions, Ms. Grant was directed to visit Laurinaitis at his hotel room before work to serve herself to him as his 'breakfast.' These devastating experiences made Ms. Grant feel as though she were being pimped out as an object for sexual gratification for her new boss. Upon information and belief, corporate funds from the WWE were used to finance Laurinaitis's hotel stays when these coerced sexual encounters occurred."
The lawsuit also alleges: "McMahon's assurances that Ms. Grant was safe and independent rang hollow in light of his efforts to isolate her from friends and attempts to chip away at her identity until it was replaced with his desired role for her as his 'bitch,' his 'fantasy,' and/or his 'porn star' (while occasionally intermixing softer descriptors like 'girlfriend' and 'baby,' even 'love' when convenient). He exercised complete ownership and control over both her personal and professional lives."
Grant was also allegedly subjected to "acts of extreme cruelty and degradation" by McMahon. One such example on May 9, 2020, allegedly involved McMahon defecating on Grant during a threesome. She was then commanded to continue pleasuring his "friend" while she had faeces in her hair and running down her back while McMahon went to the bathroom to have a shower. Grant allegedly remained covered in McMahon's faecal matter for over an hour and a half.
McMahon then allegedly pressured Grant into several additional threesomes and after they began McMahon "became more sadistic and his fantasies focused on control, such as choking, sensory deprivation, pain, humiliation, and group scenarios in which Ms. Grant was to be physically overwhelmed and subservient." On one such occasion, McMahon allegedly instructed Grant, "Do NOT knock on the door cause if I see U ::: I will r*pe U in the hallway."
In another incident, McMahon and Laurinaitis allegedly sexually assaulted Grant inside Laurinaitis' office. They allegedly "cornered her and pulled her in between them, forcibly touched her, before ultimately putting her on top of a table in between them. She begged them to stop, but they forced themselves on her, each taking turns restraining her for the other, while saying 'No means yes' and 'take it, bitch.'
Three days after that alleged incident, the lawsuit states that Vince McMahon in the middle of a workday led Grant inside his private locker room and "forced himself on her over a massage table." Later that day he gifted her $15,000 in gift cards to Bloomingdales.
The lawsuit also alleges McMahon was "most aggressive when using the certain sex toys named after male WWE wrestlers and performers. McMahon named the sex toys so that the color of the toy matched the race of the wrestler - for example, a black 'dildo' would be named after an African American wrestler and a white 'dildo' would be named after a Caucasian wrestler."
Grant allegedly suffered physical injuries during sexual encounters with McMahon, including "bleeding, swelling, bruising, and spans of incontinence resulting from McMahon's forceful use of his fists, adult toys, and objects unsafe for vaginal insertion or penetration."
In July 2021, McMahon allegedly informed Grant that someone who is currently a "top talent with WWE" would be her next "playmate". During WWE's attempts to sign the talent to a new contract, McMahon allegedly advertised a sexual encounter with Grant during formal negotiations. Grant’s personal phone number was given to the wrestler, who agreed to return to WWE around SummerSlam 2021, and in December 2021 the wrestler requested a video of herself urinating. A sexual encounter was also arranged but was cancelled due to a snowstorm. The Wall Street Journal has reported that multiple WWE sources have named this individual as Brock Lesnar.
A sexual encounter was arranged between Lesnar and Grant at McMahon's condo in July 2021 but did not go ahead as Lesnar was too intoxicated following a "business dinner" with McMahon. Later that evening "after McMahon recounted the story about his dinner with WWE Superstar to Ms. Grant, he sought to salvage the night with a request that they 'role play' a sexual encounter, in which McMahon acted as if he were WWE Superstar. McMahon was so physically rough with Ms. Grant during this encounter, that Ms. Grant begged McMahon to stop numerous times, including loud cries of 'Help!' 'I'm serious!' and 'I'm scared!' as he - among other things - penetrated her, fisted her, pulled her hair, pinned her, shoved her, and open-palm slapped her. McMahon's assault caused Ms. Grant to break down weeping and curl into the fetal position with her arms pulled up to protect her face. McMahon alternated between slaps and shoves before admitting that 'I'm really f*cking up with you right and left tonight, huh?' McMahon forbade Ms. Grant from leaving his condo that night unless she could verbally assure him that there wasn't a problem and everything between them was okay. Notably, however, he made no effort to check on her well-being after she left his condo."
In January 2022, the lawsuit states that Linda McMahon found out about the relationship and threatened McMahon with divorce. At this point, Vince McMahon allegedly informed Grant her employment with WWE was over and he wanted her to sign a nondisclosure agreement. McMahon allegedly pressured Grant to sign the NDA and she ultimately signed one. The NDA agreement was for McMahon to pay Grant $3 million for her to not discuss their relationship or to disparage him. The lawsuit alleges that McMahon stopped making payments after the initial $1 million instalment, claiming that Grant had leaked information to the press.
Following the end of her employment, McMahon allegedly continued to exploit Grant, "including attempting to traffic her to a WWE star who would be in New York City for a live event and TV taping in March 2022."
The lawsuit further alleged the "predatory conduct has left Ms. Grant crippled, both physically and mentally, including from debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation. These symptoms led to her termination from her subsequent job running her building's operations due to her inability to leave her home for weeks at a time."
WWE have also been accused of attempting to sweep the matter "under the rug", including during the special committee of the WWE Board investigation into McMahon's alleged misconduct. The investigation concluded in November 2022 but it is alleged the special committee did not interview Grant or request any documents from her despite Grant expressing that she was willing to cooperate.
The lawsuit seeks a judgment that the NDA Grant signed is invalid under state and federal law. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages under other laws, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Janel Grant’s lawyer 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. She is an incredibly private and courageous person who has suffered deeply at the hands of Mr. McMahon and Mr. Laurinaitis. Ms. Grant hopes that her lawsuit will prevent other women from being victimized. The organization is well aware of Mr. McMahon's history of depraved behavior, and it's time that they take responsibility for the misconduct of its leadership."
A spokesperson for TKO told Variety: "Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE. While this matter predates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally."
The lawsuit filing comes only two days after WWE secured a deal that will see Netflix broadcast WWE Raw in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, and other territories.
McMahon remains the TKO Executive Chairman as of press time. He was the WWE CEO and Chairman until the Summer of 2022 when he resigned after the SEC and federal prosecutors opened investigations into payments made by Vince McMahon over several years of up to $19.6 million. The payments were allegedly made to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, while McMahon also made payments in 2007 and 2009 to the Donald Trump Foundation in connection with the former United States President's appearances on WWE TV. The payments were not listed as expenses within WWE's annual accounts which prompted the government's investigations.
McMahon later forced his way back into WWE in January 2023, being elected Executive Chairman. He agreed a deal to sell WWE to Endeavor in April and the WWE-UFC merger into TKO was completed in September 2023. In November 2023, McMahon sold $670 million in TKO stock, around 30% of the shares he previously owned.
John Laurinaitis was quietly let go by WWE in 2022.