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Inside the Legal Battle: Vince McMahon Lawsuit

Inside the Legal Battle: Vince McMahon’s Lawsuit

By Daniella Silva and Diana Dasrath

A former World Wrestling Entertainment employee filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company, its founder Vince McMahon and a former WWE executive accusing the men of sex trafficking and abuse.

Janel Grant, a former employee of WWE, said in the lawsuit that she was “the victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking at WWE.” The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

“Today’s complaint seeks to hold accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked Plaintiff Janel Grant, as well as the organization that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse and then swept it under the rug,” Ann Callis, an attorney for Grant, said in a statement to NBC News. “She is an incredibly private and courageous person who has suffered deeply at the hands of Mr. McMahon and Mr. Laurinaitis.”

Callis said Grant hopes the lawsuit will prevent other women from being victimized.

World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the other former executive named in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, a spokesperson for WWE’s parent company TKO Group Holdings 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.”

The lawsuit includes accusations of sex trafficking, civil battery, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Grant met McMahon in March 2019, while he was the company’s chief executive, and he “dangled career-making and life-changing promises” while engaging in increasingly inappropriate behavior toward her.

McMahon allegedly pushed Grant for a physical relationship in exchange for promised employment at WWE, the lawsuit said, adding that she “felt trapped in an impossible situation” where she could either submit to his sexual demands or face ruin.

“Ms. Grant feared she had everything to lose and faced negative consequences no matter what happened,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said that Grant eventually entered into a physical relationship with McMahon and was given employment at the WWE.

“Despite Ms. Grant’s expressions of unhappiness and attempts to end the sexual relationship — and while she came to understand that McMahon expected the physical relationship to continue as part of her employment — she had no idea how sordid it would become, nor how the psychological torture and physical violence would leave her feeling helpless, isolated and trapped,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges that in 2020 McMahon began sharing sexually explicit photographs and videos of Grant with unnamed men inside and outside of the wrestling company.

Because McMahon was CEO of WWE at the time and Grant had an entry-level position at the company, “coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved sexual demands,” the lawsuit said.

McMahon allegedly recruited others to have sexual relations with Grant, including with Laurinaitis. Grant was expected to engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, sometimes during working hours, the suit said.

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