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Former WWE employee alleges mistreatment, exploitation, and trafficking in lawsuit against Vince McMahon

A former World Wrestling Entertainment employee initiated legal action on Thursday against the company, its founder Vince McMahon, and a former WWE executive, alleging sex trafficking and abuse.

Janel Grant, a former WWE staff member, stated in the legal filing that she experienced “physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, and trafficking at WWE.” The lawsuit was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Ann Callis, an attorney representing Grant, mentioned in a statement to NBC News, “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.” She added, “She is an incredibly private and courageous person who has suffered deeply at the hands of Mr. McMahon and Mr. Laurinaitis.”

Callis expressed Grant’s hope that the lawsuit would prevent further victimization of women.

A spokesperson for McMahon dismissed the lawsuit, stating, “The lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and a vindictive distortion of the truth. He will vigorously defend himself.”

In response, a spokesperson for WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings, clarified, “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.”

John Laurinaitis, the other former executive named in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

According to the legal filing, Grant encountered McMahon in March 2019 when he was the company’s chief executive. The lawsuit alleges that McMahon made career promises while engaging in inappropriate behavior.

Grant was allegedly pressured for a physical relationship in exchange for promised employment at WWE. The lawsuit suggests she felt cornered, facing the choice of submitting to sexual demands or risking ruin.

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

Grant eventually engaged in a physical relationship with McMahon and was employed at WWE. However, the lawsuit claims McMahon’s explicit sharing of intimate material with unnamed individuals began in 2020.

Given McMahon’s CEO role at WWE and Grant’s entry-level position, the lawsuit asserts that coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved demands.

The lawsuit alleges McMahon involved others, including Laurinaitis, in sexual relations with Grant, sometimes during working hours at WWE headquarters.

In 2022, Grant claims she lost her job after McMahon pressured her to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) due to his wife discovering their relationship. The lawsuit alleges McMahon stopped the payments linked to the NDA after Grant signed it.

The legal action aims to nullify the NDA and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. It further alleges that, even after leaving the company, McMahon attempted to traffic Grant to an unnamed WWE star in March 2022.

The lawsuit contends that McMahon’s actions have left Grant physically and mentally crippled, causing debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following media reports of McMahon’s involvement in a hush money payment scandal, WWE allegedly attempted to downplay the matter. The lawsuit claims that the special committee formed to investigate the alleged misconduct did not interview Grant or request documents.

“Ms. Grant was groomed and coerced by McMahon and Laurinaitis, and the WWE stood by and facilitated efforts to keep Ms. Grant employed by WWE to ensure McMahon’s continued sexual exploitation,” the lawsuit asserted.

In 2022, McMahon stepped down as CEO after an investigation revealed he had paid nearly $15 million to four women over 16 years to settle claims of sexual misconduct. Despite his leave, McMahon retained control as a majority shareholder.”

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