Former WWE employee Janel Grant has filed a lawsuit accusing Vince McMahon of sexually abusing her and trafficking her to other men in the company. She signed a nondisclosure agreement in 2022 where McMahon agreed to pay her $3 million to keep quiet about everything that happened. However, McMahon allegedly violated the terms of that agreement. The goal of the lawsuit is to void the NDA and sue for financial damages.
The Wall Street Journal describes how the lawsuit alleges that McMahon pressured Grant into sexual acts in exchange for career advancement in WWE:
When they met, McMahon allegedly made promises of a job at WWE and showered Grant with gifts. During meetings that were supposed to be about the job, he greeted her in his underwear and repeatedly asked for hugs. Then, the suit said, he pressured her into sexual activities in return for employment and warned her to stay quiet about their interactions.
Grant began working in June 2019 as an “administrator-coordinator,” a position McMahon created for her in WWE’s legal department. She said she expressed concerns that the job felt unearned, but McMahon told her that all she needed to do was not tell anyone and that “it just has to look legit.” Colleagues complained about overflowing inboxes, but Grant had little work.
Meanwhile, McMahon allegedly sent her sexually explicit messages and his sexual demands increased. He forcefully used sex toys on her, including dildos he named after WWE wrestlers, causing her bruising and bleeding, the suit said. Grant alleged that she complained to McMahon and made attempts to end the relationship.
Many of Grant’s specific claims of abuse are horrifying to read about, such as McMahon allegedly locking her in the office to sexually assault her:
She alleged that McMahon and another WWE executive locked her in an office in WWE’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn., on June 15, 2021, and took turns sexually assaulting her while other staff were working.
In the middle of another workday, on June 23, 2021, McMahon locked Grant inside his private locker room at WWE’s offices and forced himself on her over a massage table, the suit said. Later that day, McMahon’s personal assistant delivered $15,000 in Bloomingdale’s gift cards to Grant in her office.
The suit also includes screenshots of explicit text messages that McMahon allegedly sent to Grant. A May 2020 message said: “i’m the only one who owns U and controls who I want to f— U.
Grant alleged that McMahon shared nude photos and explicit videos of her without consent with other WWE employees, unnamed executives and stars, and directed her to have sex with them. The suit cited a July 2020 text that said others at WWE wanted to have sex with her after seeing photos on McMahon’s phone, and the group laughed when he told them, “She may scream and try to say NO!!although it would B difficult to say anything with a c— down her throat.
Former WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis is also accused of sexually assaulting Grant:
McMahon recruited people to have sex with Grant as well, including WWE’s former head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis, who is named as a defendant in the suit. McMahon directed her to visit Laurinaitis at his hotel rooms where she had sex with Laurinaitis prior to the start of workdays, the suit alleged...McMahon controlled her professional and personal lives and subjected her to degradation, according to the suit. In the June 2021 encounter inside the WWE office, the suit said McMahon and Laurinaitis forced themselves on her and took turns restraining her for the other, while saying “No means yes” and “Take it, b—.”
WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar is also reportedly a key figure in the lawsuit:
In July 2021, the suit said, McMahon instructed Grant to create personalized sexual content for a WWE superstar that he was trying to re-sign. The suit didn’t name the professional wrestler, but described him as both a UFC fighter and WWE talent. People familiar with the matter identified the wrestler as Brock Lesnar, one of WWE’s biggest names.
...The suit said McMahon shared the explicit photos with the star and informed Grant that “he likes what he sees.” After the star agreed to a new WWE contract, McMahon texted Grant in August 2021 to say “that part of the deal was f—ing U.”
That December, McMahon gave Grant’s personal cellphone number to the WWE star, the lawsuit said. The wrestler asked her to send a video of herself urinating, the suit said, and after she did, he called her a “b—.” That same month, the suit said, the star expressed a desire to “set a play date,” but a snowstorm disrupted his travel plans.
The lawsuit alleges that McMahon defecated on Janel’s head during a threesome, and that his abuse continued even after his wife Linda found out what was going on:
In January 2022, the suit said, McMahon told Grant that his wife, Linda McMahon, had discovered the relationship and he pressured Grant to sign an NDA in exchange for payments. The CEO warned Grant of reputational ruin that included pornographic content he had of her. He paid her about $1 million in February, the suit said, and later stopped making the payments.
After Grant signed the NDA, McMahon continued the abuse, according to the suit. It alleged that he forced Grant to perform oral sex on him the last time they met and then attempted to traffic her to the WWE star in March 2022. She texted the star explicit photos as directed by McMahon, but they didn’t meet, the suit said.
McMahon temporarily stepped down as CEO of WWE in summer 2022 when it was revealed that the WWE Board of Directors was investigating an allegation of a $3 million dollar hush money payment to a former employee related to sexual misconduct. Later reports included additional hush money payment allegations against McMahon, and WWE had to redo some of its financial statements as a result.
The lawsuit alleges that WWE’s internal investigation intentionally tried to focus on the financials of the matter in order to shift the focus off of McMahon’s misconduct.
Grant alleged that the company diverted attention away from McMahon’s abuse by focusing on the accounting for the payouts. Others at WWE knew about McMahon’s misconduct but worked to conceal the wrongdoing, according to the suit.”
WSJ mentions that Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, and Brock Lesnar have yet to respond to their requests for comment on this lawsuit. The same is true of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, the law firm WWE retained to conduct the investigation into McMahon’s hush money scandal.
In September 2023, WWE was purchased by Endeavor and merged with UFC to form a new publicly traded company called TKO Group Holdings, where Vince remains a high level executive and member of the Board of Directors. TKO has since admitted that McMahon is a liability to the company based on these allegations of misconduct, and that was well before today’s lawsuit was filed.
We’ll bring you more on this story as we have it.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, confidential support is available by calling 800.656.HOPE, and links to other resources can be found here.