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Vince McMahon resigns from WWE parent company TKO after sexual misconduct lawsuit filed

WWE co-founder and wrestling icon Vince McMahon has resigned from the organisation's parent company after being accused of sexual misconduct and sex trafficking.

Former employee Janel Grant filed a graphic lawsuit on Thursday that included claims she was offered to an unnamed star wrestler for sex.

McMahon denies the allegations but has stepped down as executive chairman of the board of directors at TKO Group, the firm said.

The 78-year-old faces multiple accusations, including forcing Grant into a sexual relationship to keep her job and sharing pornographic photos and videos of her with other men, including WWE staff.

Ms Grant worked in WWE's legal and talent departments and agreed to be named in the case.

The lawsuit, filed in Connecticut, claims McMahon subjected her to "acts of extreme cruelty and degradation" that caused her to "become numb to reality in order to survive the horrific encounters".

Another man accused in the case is John Laurinaitis, the company's former head of talent relations and general manager, who has not yet commented.

McMahon said on Friday he was resigning "out of respect" for WWE and TKO Group.

He added: "I stand by my prior statement that Ms Grant's lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth.

"I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name."

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

The lawsuit also 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".

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).

McMahon stood down as WWE chief executive in 2022 amid allegations matching those in the lawsuit.

He led the organisation for decades and was familiar to wrestling fans around the world.

The former wrestler used scripted matches, celebrity wrestlers and glitz to appeal to TV audiences, with revenue boosted by pay-per-view events such as Wrestlemania.

One of his iconic on-screen moments was in 2007 when he started a feud with Donald Trump.

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WWE merged last year with the firm that runs the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) to create the $21bn company TKO Group Holdings, where McMahon was executive chairman of the board until Friday.

Earlier this week, TKO Group said it was taking the claims "very seriously".

"Mr McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE," it said.

"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."