WWE co-founder Vince McMahon has been accused of raping and trafficking a former employee in a disturbing lawsuit filed on Thursday.
In graphic court documents filed to the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, plaintiff Janel Grant describes “psychological torture and physical violence” she was subjected to by McMahon, who first pressured her into a sexual relationship with the promise of professional opportunities after meeting her in March 2019.
The suit claims McMahon would later direct Grant to have sex with WWE wrestlers and other men and that he would intimidate her with threats of revenge porn and make “depraved sexual demands” in exchange for her continued employment.
Grant, who worked for WWE from June 2019 through March 2022, says that she was fired after McMahon’s wife, Linda McMahon, discovered the relationship and that she was subsequently pressured to sign a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $3 million.
Vince McMahon appears in Miami on April 1, 2012, ahead of WrestleMania XXVIII. McMahon, the co-founder of the WWE, has been accused of raping, trafficking and exploiting a former employee.
A spokesperson for McMahon categorically denied the accusations in a statement to HuffPost.
“This lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth,” the statement said. “He will vigorously defend himself.”
Among the unsettling details in Grant’s lawsuit is an account of McMahon defecating on Grant during a threesome in May 2020.
Court documents also claim McMahon and WWE Talent Relations boss John Laurinaitis took turns violently raping her in Laurinaitis’ office at WWE headquarters in June 2021 and that McMahon directed Grant to engage in sex with him and other WWE employees during working hours.
Laurinaitis is listed as a defendant in the suit, along with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., which the suit claims “actively sought to conceal the wrongdoing.”
WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings, distanced itself from the accusations in a statement to HuffPost, saying, “Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he 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.”
TKO was formed in 2023 as the result of WWE’s merger with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). McMahon is the executive chairman of the conglomerate.
The wrestling kingpin initially stepped down as WWE’s top executive in 2022 after a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed he had paid more than $12 million to four women over 16 years to hide accusations of sexual misconduct and infidelity. He returned to the business’ board several months later.
In July 2023, federal agents obtained a search warrant for the wrestling boss’s phone in relation to an investigation of the payouts. No charges have been filed against him.
Grant’s suit states that McMahon’s “extreme cruelty and degradation” had “crippled” the plaintiff “both physically and mentally” and that she has dealt with “debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal ideation.”
She is asking the court to void the 2022 nondisclosure agreement, which forbids her from discussing her relationship with McMahon or disparaging him. She is also seeking unspecified damages.
On Wednesday, Netflix announced it signed a $5 billion, 10-year deal with WWE for the exclusive rights to stream its live event “Raw” and other programming.
You can read the full lawsuit here.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that Netflix signed a 10-year deal with WWE for $5 million. The deal is $5 billion.