A former of WWE employee has alleged that she was sex trafficked by the company’s co-founder Vince McMahon.
Janel Grant filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the District of Connecticut on Thursday, claiming that the 78-year-old businessman used her to entice wrestling talent.
Other defendants mentioned include former head of talent relations John Laurinaitis.
The lawsuit alleges trafficking by McMahon and Laurinaitis, civil battery and infliction of emotional distress by all parties – and negligence against the WWE, in the documents seen by the PA news agency.
Ms Grant’s lawyer, Ann Callis of Holland Law Firm, said the lawsuit is seeking to “hold accountable” the executives and WWE.
Ms Callis added: “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 victimised.”
The lawsuit claims Ms Grant was asked to provide services for a WWE superstar so he could continue involvement in the wrestling organisation and after this did not occur she recalled this to McMahon, who was “physically rough” with her.
“WWE benefited financially from the commercial sex act venture orchestrated by McMahon, including by having wrestling talent, such as WWE Superstar, sign new contracts with WWE after McMahon presented plantiff as a sexual commodity for their use,” the document says.
The lawsuit also alleges that McMahon and Laurinaitis “controlled her continued employment with WWE, and pressured her to engage in sex acts”.
It also claims that McMahon sent sexually explicit photographs and videos of Ms Grant to WWE employees and a “world-famous athlete and former UFC Heavyweight Champion”.
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In January 2022, it also claimed that McMahon told Ms Grant to sign an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when his wife discovered their relationship.
She alleges if she did not then she would suffer legal consequences and become a “public headline and suffer reputational ruin” from the images and videos he recorded.
Her lawyers have asked the court to find her NDA invalid.
McMahon co-founded WWE in 1980 and served on the board of directors of WWE from 1980 to September 2023.
He has been executive chairman of WWE’s parent company TKO Group Holdings, which also owns Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), since September 2023.
Laurinaitis left the company in 2022.
A TKO spokesperson 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.”
WWE has been contacted for a response.