A former World Wrestling Entertainment employee just filed a lawsuit against WWE cofounder Vince McMahon. The details of the suit, which charges the billionaire wrestling mogul with sexual assault and sex trafficking, are hard to stomach.
Vince McMahon speaks at a news conference on January 8, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
On Thursday, Janel Grant, a former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) employee, filed a complaint against WWE cofounder and parent company TKO Group Holdings executive chairman Vince McMahon as well as former head of talent relations at WWE John Laurinaitis. The sixty-seven-page court document details a yearslong abusive relationship between McMahon and Grant, wherein McMahon stands accused of repeated instances of sexual assault and sex trafficking. There is no mistaking the disturbing parallels between McMahon and his close friend Donald Trump, who at the moment is caught up in myriad court cases, some of which also include charges of sexual assault and hush-money payments.
The details of the complaint against McMahon are difficult to stomach. Grant describes how between 2019 and 2022 McMahon preyed on her financial instability and her grief over her recently deceased family and coerced her into a sexual relationship in exchange for a salaried position at WWE and the promise of an eventual vice president position in talent relations.
Before offering Grant a job, McMahon repeatedly made clear his sexual interest in her, insinuating that Grant’s position within the company would be contingent upon satisfying him. Thereafter, McMahon provided her with a $75,000 newly created position as a “legal administrator-coordinator” with hardly any work involved compared to her overworked counterparts.
Alongside text messages from McMahon himself that are reproduced in the court filing, Grant’s complaint depicts an environment where McMahon kept her around the office solely for his sexual pleasure, often subjecting her to assaults at work and openly referring to her as “his bitch.” McMahon later took to sharing videos and photos of Grant with other WWE employees without her consent and inviting other individuals to engage in sexual activity with Grant — including Laurinaitis, who McMahon demanded that Grant satisfy whenever asked. On one occasion, Grant recalls how McMahon defecated on her head and prohibited her from showering, all while she was ordered to engage in continued sexual activity with McMahon’s friend.
Grant graphically describes how, on other occasions, McMahon and Laurinaitis assaulted her on WWE premises and refused her repeated requests to stop. In another instance, Grant reveals, McMahon promised sexual access to her in a contract with an unnamed WWE superstar who at the time McMahon was looking to resign to the business. Some outlets have since identified the individual as Brock Lesnar, who also communicated with Grant and requested sexual videos from her.
Grant’s complaint depicts an environment where McMahon kept her around the office solely for his sexual pleasure, often subjecting her to assaults at work.
In January 2022, McMahon told Grant that he was terminating their sexual relationship to avoid divorce proceedings with his wife, and they eventually agreed to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) and provide Grant with $3 million. However, after McMahon stopped making agreed-upon payments, Grant filed the lawsuit against McMahon and Laurinaitis, alleging the invalidity of the NDA.
For his part, McMahon has denied the claims, and WWE parent company TKO initially said it was “addressing this matter internally.” Yesterday evening, however, McMahon announced that he was resigning from his position at TKO.
Throughout his tenure as WWE chairman, McMahon has faced no shortage of accusations of heinous behavior. In December 2022, he settled a lawsuit with former WWE referee Rita Chatterton, who had accused McMahon of raping her in his limousine in 1986. In 1994, McMahon was acquitted in a trial where he stood accused of providing wrestlers with illegal steroids. McMahon has also been accused of covering up the domestic abuse and eventual murder of Nancy Argentino at the hands of his employee and wrestler Superfly Jimmy Snuka.
That’s all on top of the more run-of-the mill labor abuses that have been rampant across the WWE throughout its history. Unsurprisingly, McMahon squashed wrestlers’ one major effort at unionizing.
The parallels between McMahon and Trump’s current legal predicaments are striking. It’s no surprise the two are close — indeed, in her book Ringmaster: Vince McMahon and the Unmaking of America, Abraham Josephine Riesman describes McMahon as one of Trump’s only friends. “Vince is likely the closest thing to a friend that Donald Trump has,” she writes. “So intimate are the former WWE CEO and the forty-fifth president that Vince is said to be one of the only people whose calls Trump takes in private, forcing his retinue to leave the room so the two old chums can chat in confidence.”
The two men have so far escaped criminal convictions for their behavior. The civil court system, however, seems to be moving toward holding them accountable in some way for their rotten activities over the last few decades.
As always for the very rich, though, Trump and McMahon will eventually pay their way out of these lawsuits. But Trump still has four other cases to contend with, and he at least might end up seeing prison time for some of these charges.Original post