McMahon characterized the decision as being in the best interest of TKO Holdings and the WWE, while emphasizing that he plans to defend himself against the lawsuit’s incendiary claims of sexual abuse and trafficking.
Vince McMahan has resigned from his positions as executive chairman and board member of TKO Group Holdings, the parent company of WWE, after a former employee accused him of sex trafficking and abuse.
According to USA Today, McMahan announced that he would be stepping down less than a day after Janel Grant, a former administrative employee at World Wrestling Entertainment, filed a lawsuit against him, the WWE, and the company’s former head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, McMahon allegedly coerced Grant into a “physical relationship in return for long-promised employment at WWE.”
The relationship, Grant says, grew increasingly more “depraved,” with McMahon circulating sexually explicit photographs and videos of her with other WWE executives and wrestlers.
Court filings include excerpts of text messages that McMahon purportedly sent to Grant, in which he described his sexual fantasies and admitted to sharing stories about their relationship.
“I just passed my phone around to a bunch of guys on the tech crew,” McMahon allegedly wrote in one message. “They were screaming!”
Attorneys for Grant also suggest that McMahon’s actions often crossed a line from harassment to intentional cruelty.
“McMahan also subjected Grant to acts of extreme cruelty and degradation that caused Grant to disassociate and/or become numb to reality in order to survive the horrific encounters,” the complaint alleges.
Earlier this week, McMahon announced his resignation from TKO Holdings, while emphasizing that he plans to defend himself in court.
“I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and I look forward to clearing my name,” McMahon said in a statement reprinted by USA Today. “However, out of respect for the WWE Universe, the extraordinary TKO business and its board members and shareholders, partners and constituents, and all of the employees and Superstars who heled make WWE into the global leader it is today, I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effectively immediately.”
Grant’s lawsuit notes that, in January 2022, McMahon’s wife—Linda McMahon—found out about her husband’s extramarital relationship.
McMahon allegedly then pressured Grant into leaving the WWE, but “wanted to ensure that [she] would remain silent about his personal misconduct in order to preserve his controlling interest in WWE.” Both parties—Grant, and McMahon—signed a nondisclosure agreement, with McMahon agreeing to pay $3 million in exchange for Grant’s silence.
Now, Grant says that McMahon never upheld his end of the bargain, having paid only one-third of the total amount.
The lawsuit asks that the court find the nondisclosure agreement invalid under federal and state law, due, in part, to McMahon having allegedly engaged in sex trafficking.
McMahon has characterized these charges, among others, as blatant untruths.
“I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant’s lawsuit is replete with laws, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth,” he said.