WWE employee sues Vince McMahon, alleging abuse, sexual assault, trafficking

A former World Wrestling Entertainment employee filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company, its founder Vince McMahon and a former WWE executive, accusing the men of sex trafficking and abuse.

Janel Grant, a former WWE employee, said in the lawsuit that she was “a victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking at WWE.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.

“Today’s lawsuit 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,” Ann Callis , Grant’s attorney. she said in a statement to NBC News. “She is an incredibly private and brave person who has suffered deeply at the hands of Mr. McMahon and Mr. Laurinaitis.”

Callis said Grant hopes the lawsuit will prevent other women from being victimized.

A spokesperson for McMahon said the lawsuit is “replete with lies, made-up obscene cases that never happened, and vindictive distortion of the truth. “It will be vigorously defended.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for WWE parent company TKO Group Holdings said: “Mr. McMahon does not control TKO or 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.”

John Laurinaitis, the other former executive named in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit includes allegations of sex trafficking, civil battery, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Grant met McMahon in March 2019, when he was the company’s CEO, and he “made her promises to build a career and change her life” while behaving increasingly inappropriately toward her.

McMahon allegedly pressured Grant into a physical relationship in exchange for a promised job with WWE, according to the lawsuit, adding that she “felt trapped in an impossible situation” in which she could submit to his sexual demands or confront the ruin.

“EM. Grant feared he had everything to lose and faced negative consequences no matter what happened,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said Grant eventually entered into a physical relationship with McMahon and obtained employment with WWE.

“Despite Ms. Grant’s expressions of unhappiness and her attempts to end the sexual relationship, and although she came to understand that McMahon expected the physical relationship to continue as part of her employment, she had no idea how sordid it was. would become, nor how the psychological relationship would continue. “her torture and physical violence would leave her feeling helpless, isolated and trapped,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that in 2020, McMahon began sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of Grant with anonymous men inside and outside the wrestling company.

Because McMahon was CEO of WWE at the time and Grant had an entry-level position at the company, “coercion was inherent to his increasingly depraved sexual demands,” the lawsuit said.

McMahon allegedly recruited other people to have sexual relations with Grant, including Laurinaitis. Grant was expected to engage in sexual activity at WWE headquarters, sometimes during work hours, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that McMahon and Laurinaitis sexually assaulted Grant inside Laurinaitis’ office while she begged them to stop, while other “colleagues were busy at their desks.”

Grant also claims in the lawsuit that others in WWE knew what was going on, but “actively sought to cover up the irregularities.”

Grant said in the lawsuit that he lost his job at the company after McMahon said his wife had found out about their relationship in January 2022 and that he put her under “immense pressure” to sign a confidentiality agreement that would prevent Grant from talk about the company. sexual misconduct.

He eventually signed the confidentiality agreement in exchange for payments, which McMahon later stopped making, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit did not provide details about the amount and frequency of the payments.

The lawsuit seeks to vacate the NDA, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The lawsuit alleges that even after she was kicked out of the company, McMahon attempted to traffic her to an unnamed WWE star in March 2022.

The alleged abuse and predatory behavior “has left Ms. Grant crippled, both physically and mentally,” and she suffers from “debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” according to the lawsuit.

WWE allegedly attempted to “sweep the matter under the rug” following media reports of McMahon’s involvement in a hush money scandal, announcing a special committee or its board of directors to investigate the alleged misconduct. , according to the demand.

Grant alleged that the special committee never interviewed her or requested any documents, even though Grant said she would cooperate, according to the lawsuit.

“EM. Grant was groomed and coerced by McMahon and Laurinaitis, and WWE stood by and facilitated efforts to keep Ms. Grant employed by WWE to ensure the continued sexual exploitation of McMahon,” the lawsuit says.

World Wrestling Entertainment said earlier this month that McMahon, also a majority shareholder, would be reinstated to the company’s board of directors.

McMahon had initially resigned as CEO in 2022 after a investigation found that He had paid nearly $15 million to four women over 16 years to silence allegations of sexual misconduct..

Even during your leave, McMahon maintained control of the company as a majority shareholder. In a November regulatory filing, WWE said: “Mr. “McMahon can effectively exercise control over our affairs.”

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