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New report details the federal investigation into Vince McMahon sexual abuse allegations

Last summer, WWE disclosed that Vince McMahon was the subject of ongoing government investigations. A search warrant was executed on and a federal grand jury subpoenas served to McMahon in July 2023, and the company received ”voluntary and compulsory legal demands for documents” from various agencies.

Based on WWE’s framing of the allegations against McMahon at that time as an issue with how his hush money payments were recorded (rather than on the behavior they were paying people to remain quiet about), most presumed the investigation was for potential financials crimes.

Janel Grant’s lawsuit against McMahon, former company executive John Laurinaitis & WWE has refocused the greater conversation onto McMahon’s misconduct by providing details of the sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking she allegedly suffered while in a relationship with McMahon — much of which happened after he secured employment at WWE for her. According to a report out this morning from The Wall Street Journal, it is those sexual assault and sex trafficking allegations that federal prosecutors are investigating as well.

The Journal’s learned the search warrant federal agents executed last July was for McMahon’s phone (several exhibits from Grant’s suit include text messages between McMahon and Grant). He was subpoenaed for “documents related to any allegation of ‘rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, commercial sex transaction, harassment or discrimination’ against current or former WWE employees.”

Reporters Joe Palazzolo, Khadeeja Safdar and Ted Mann also received a description of the subpoena. As originally reported in 2022, it does cover the payouts made to McMahon’s accusers. But it also covered “communications between McMahon and these women, including Grant.” Prosecutors have interviewed some of the women named in the subpoena, who in addition to Grant include:

  • A WWE contractor whom McMahon allegedly sent unsolicited nude photos and sexually harassed
  • A former WWE wrestler who said McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex
  • Former WWE referee Rita Chatterton, who publicly accused McMahon of raping her in 1992
  • A spa manager who said McMahon assaulted her at a Southern California resort
  • A former WWE employee who alleged the head of talent relations at the company at the time, John Laurinaitis, demoted her after she broke off an affair with him

McMahon resigned from WWE in 2022 during a Board investigation into the payouts, but engineered a return in January of 2023 and facilitated the sale of the company to Endeavor. Once completed, Endeavor spun WWE off with the UFC as TKO Group and named McMahon Executive Chairman. He resigned from that post last week after Grant’s lawsuit, filed after he stopped making payments on the settlement they agreed upon to ensure her silence. He denies the allegations in her suit, and previously denied Chatterton’s rape charge — including when agreeing to a multi-million dollar settlement with the former WWE referee.

Through his lawyer, Laurinaitis has said that he was also a victim of McMahon’s abuse and coercion.

TKO issued a statement in the wake of Grant’s lawsuit which sought to distance the new company from incidents which occurred pre-merger while saying they were handling the matter internally. The Wall Street Journal’s latest report notes that WWE hasn’t responded “to requests about the probe or about the individual women’s allegations.”

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