WWE founder Vince McMahon is accused by a former employee of sex trafficking. The former employee, Janel Grant, alleges that McMahon pressured her into having sex with him and another WWE employee in exchange for her job. In addition to her own assault, Grant is accusing McMahon of sex trafficking at WWE.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a Connecticut federal court, alleges that Grant was hired by McMahon in 2019, after her parents had passed away and she was unemployed. “But what seemed like a dream in the spring of 2019 quickly became a nightmare,” the lawsuit claims.
Grant alleges that McMahon pushed her for a sexual relationship in exchange for the job, and soon “greeted her in his underwear, touched her, repeatedly asked for hugs, and spent hours sharing intimate details about his personal life.” Once employed, McMahon allegedly shared explicit photos of Grant with other WWE employees and wrestlers, and “recruited individuals to have sexual relations with Ms. Grant” including WWE employees.
She also alleges that McMahon and another WWE executive sexually assaulted her “while colleagues were busy at their desks.”
The lawsuit raises questions about McMahon’s behavior as well as management at WWE, which is now part of TKO Group Holdings. In 2022, McMahon 2022 report in the Wall Street Journal said that McMahon had agreed to pay more than $12 million to four women.while the company investigated him for alleged misconduct, with the probe centered on claims that he paid hush money to a worker with whom he allegedly had an affair. A
WWE’s investigation was “a sham,” Grant’s lawyers allege in the suit. “[T]he special committee never even bothered to interview Ms. Grant or request any documents despite Ms. Grant stating that she would cooperate.”
McMahon later allegedly pressured Grant to sign a non-disclosure agreement after he told her that his wife had found out about their relationship, according to the complaint.
“Ultimately, Ms. Grant succumbed to the pressure and signed the NDA in exchange for payments – which McMahon later stopped making,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit is asking a court to declare her NDA invalid under federal law, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. WWE didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The 67-page lawsuit is filled with allegations that include some disturbing details. Below are some of the lawsuit’s claims.
In grief and vulnerable
In her claim, Grant depicts herself as down-on-her-luck and suffering from grief when she encountered McMahon. According to the lawsuit, her parents had recently passed away and she was trying to find work when a friend recommended she reach out to McMahon to ask for advice.
In their first meeting, McMahon allegedly shared intimate details about his life, including “current family dynamics, including his separation from Linda McMahon, his traumatic childhood, growing up in poverty,” and told her “that he didn’t just want to give her a job, but ‘give [her] a life,’ and that he would find a place for her at WWE.”
But, the lawsuit claims, McMahon soon overstepped boundaries, beginning to groom Grant for sexual exploitation, such as by appearing in his underwear, asking her for kisses and making sexual advances.
Aggressive sexual behavior
McMahon allegedly demanded that Grant send him explicit photos, and engaged in sexual behavior that the lawsuit claims was aggressive, causing “physical injuries, including bleeding and pain, from forceful use of sex toys.”
McMahon also allegedly named his sex toys after male WWE wrestlers: “[F]or example, a black ‘dildo’ would be named after an African American wrestler and a white ‘dildo’ would be named after a Caucasian wrestler.”
The lawsuit also includes purported texts from McMahon to Grant in which he describes his sexual fantasies, as well as sharing that he had shown male WWE employees her explicit photos as well as stories about their sexual behaviors.
“I just passed my phone around to a bunch of guys on the tech crew. They were screaming!! … “Look at that a**,” he wrote.
Allegations of sex trafficking
The lawsuit claims the relationship shifted into sex trafficking in 2020, when McMahon allegedly pressured Grant into threesomes with other men, including McMahon’s physical therapist and another WWE executive, John Laurinaitis, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“On numerous occasions, Ms. Grant was directed to visit Laurinaitis at his hotel room before work to serve herself to him as his ‘breakfast,'” the lawsuit alleges. “These devastating experiences made Ms. Grant feel as though she were being pimped out as an object for sexual gratification for her new boss.”
Claim of sexual assault in the WWE office
The lawsuit also claims that McMahon and Laurinaitis sexually assaulted her during the workday at the WWE office.
In June 2021, when she arrived at work, the pair brought her into Laurinaitis’ office and allegedly assaulted her, despite Grant saying “no” and “please stop.” The lawsuit claims that McMahon responded, “No means yes.”
“On multiple other occasions while Ms. Grant worked under Laurinaitis, including after McMahon’s promise that one-on-one encounters would end – and even after his wife moved across the country to join Laurinaitis – he would call Ms. Grant to his office, lock the door, unzip his pants, and instruct Ms. Grant to perform oral sex,” the lawsuit claims.
Grant was allegedly used as a “sexual pawn” to sign a wrestler
The lawsuit also claims McMahon used Grant as a “sexual pawn” to entice an unnamed WWE wrestler, called WWE Superstar in the lawsuit, to sign a new contract.
“In December 2021, McMahon gave Ms. Grant’s personal cell phone number to WWE Superstar and promised ‘she’ll do anything’ requested of her,” the lawsuit alleges. “In the days that followed, WWE Superstar revealed a fetish to Ms. Grant and tested McMahon’s promise that Ms. Grant would ‘do anything’ with a request that she send a video of herself urinating.”
Grant said she “obeyed,” although avoided future interactions with the wrestler due to the COVID pandemic.