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Ex-WWE boss Vince McMahon accused of sexual misconduct and sex trafficking

The co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Vince McMahon, has been accused of serious sexual misconduct and sex trafficking - claims which he denies.

Former WWE employee Janel Grant, who worked in the company's legal and talent departments and agreed to be named in the case, filed a graphic 67-page lawsuit in which she alleged she was a victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking at the firm.

She claimed McMahon recruited people to have sex with her at the WWE headquarters and subjected her to "acts of extreme cruelty and degradation" that caused her to "become numb to reality in order to survive the horrific encounters".

McMahon, now 78, is also accused of passing around sexually explicit photos and videos of Ms Grant to other men, including other WWE employees.

He stepped down as WWE's chief executive in 2022 amid allegations of misconduct matching those in this lawsuit.

The other defendants in the case were named as WWE and John Laurinaitis, the company's former head of talent relations and general manager.

A spokesperson for McMahon said he denies the allegations.

"This lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth. He will vigorously defend himself," they said in a statement sent to website Wrestling Inc.

McMahon 'befriends' Grant

McMahon, who now serves as executive chairman of TKO Group Holdings - a merger of WWE and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), allegedly "befriended" Ms Grant in 2019 as they lived in the same building "showering her with attention and assurances" as she was unemployed and struggling financially amid her parents' deaths.

According to the lawsuit, during several meetings about the potential job at WWE, McMahon greeted Ms Grant in his underwear, touched her, repeatedly asked for hugs, and spent hours sharing intimate details about his personal life.

She alleges that he eventually made it clear that one of the requirements of the job was a physical relationship with him and later with Laurinaitis and others.

McMahon would allegedly give Ms Grant gifts over the following few years to keep her "under [his] control", including a BMW, numerous gift cards, luxury jewellery and clothing, and $20,000 (£15,715) towards surgery.

'A sexual commodity'

McMahon was accused of recruiting his "physical therapist" to engage in a "threesome" with himself and Ms Grant, and referred to her as his "girlfriend" in order to accomplish this.

It is also alleged McMahon offered one of his star wrestlers - a person not named in the lawsuit - sex with Ms Grant as a perk in 2021.

The lawsuit claims WWE "benefited financially" from a "commercial sex act venture orchestrated by McMahon" by having wrestling talent sign new contracts after presenting Ms Grant "as a sexual commodity for their use".

A number of screenshots depicting explicit messages allegedly sent by McMahon to Ms Grant were also included in the documents.

Ms Grant is seeking compensation and to have the court void a $3m (£2.35m) non-disclosure agreement, of which she alleges she received only $1m (£735,000).

Her representatives said she waived her anonymity as she "hopes that her lawsuit will prevent other women from being victimised".

WWE's parent company, TKO Group, issued a statement saying it is taking the allegations "very seriously".

It said: "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."

McMahon led the wrestling entertainment company for almost four decades, transforming it into a billion dollar company.

Laurinaitis has been approached for comment.