Feds Investigate Vince McMahon on Sex Trafficking Allegations

WWE founder's legal trouble escalates
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2024 10:42 AM CST
Co-Defendant Appears to Confirm McMahon Allegations
WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon speaks to an audience during a WWE fan appreciation event, Oct. 30, 2010, in Hartford, Conn.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Federal prosecutors in New York spent months investigating sex trafficking allegations against World Wrestling Entertainment founder Vince McMahon before a former WWE employee detailed her allegations in a lawsuit last week. Federal agents executed a search warrant for McMahon's phone and delivered a grand jury subpoena for documents related to allegations of rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, and sexual harassment against current or former WWE employees over the summer, the Wall Street Journal reports. It notes the investigation was first launched in 2022 when the Journal reported McMahon had paid $12 million in hush money to four women formerly affiliated with WWE.

Ex-WWE staffer Janel Grant accused McMahon and former executive John Laurinaitis of sexually assaulting and trafficking her in a Jan. 25 lawsuit, which included copies of text messages in which McMahon claimed to "own" her. The subpoena sought McMahon's communications with Grant and other women who'd signed settlement agreements. They include Rita Chatterton, a former WWE referee who first accused McMahon of rape in the 1990s; a WWE contractor who accuses McMahon of sexual harassment; a former wrestler who says she was forced to perform oral sex on McMahon; a spa manager who claims McMahon assaulted her at a resort; and a former WWE employee who says she was demoted following an affair with Laurinaitis, per the Journal. Some of the women have reportedly been interviewed.

A lawyer for Laurinaitis, who previously wrestled under the name Johnny Ace, "appeared to corroborate central claims" in Grant's suit in a Thursday statement to VICE News. "Like the Plaintiff, Mr. Laurinaitis is a victim in this case," said attorney Edward Brennan, claiming Laurinaitis faced "repercussions" if McMahon's demands weren't met. In a statement last week, McMahon said "Grant's lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth." He's also denied Chatterson's rape claim, with a lawyer claiming he only "settled the case solely to avoid the cost of litigation," per Deadspin. McMahon has not commented on the other allegations. (More Vince McMahon stories.)

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