"I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations and look forward to clearing my name," McMahon shared in a statement shared with PEOPLE
Vince McMahon has resigned as executive chairman of WWE/UFC's parent company, TKO Group Holdings, effective immediately.
His resignation comes a day after former WWE employee Janel Grant sued McMahon, the WWE, and former senior vice president of talent relations John Laurinaitis, claiming that she experienced "physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault and trafficking" while working at the company.
"I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant's lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred, and is a vindictive distortion of the truth. I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations and look forward to clearing my name," McMahon shared in statement shared with PEOPLE.
"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 helped make WWE into the global leader it is today, I have decided to resign from my executive chairmanship and the TKO board of directors, effective immediately," the statement continued.
McMahon had previously stepped down as chairman and CEO of the WWE in June 2022 and announced his retirement a month after, amid an investigation into allegations he paid a former employee $3 million to hide their affair.
The investigation closed in November 2022, and McMahon was "unanimously" elected executive chairman of the board in January 2023," per a press release. When the WWE and UFC merged in September to create TKO Group Holdings, McMahon was appointed executive chairman.
"During several meetings that were ostensibly about a potential job at WWE, he greeted her in his underwear, touched her, repeatedly asking for hugs, and spent hours sharing intimate details about his personal life," Grant alleges to have experienced during her first meetings with McMahon in a complaint obtained by PEOPLE.
Grant alleges that McMahon "pushed" her "for a physical relationship in return for long-promised employment at WWE." She alleges to have been hired as an entry-level employee for the WWE's legal department in June 2019 after "succumbing to the pressure for a physical relationship."
The complaint alleges that McMahon began "sharing sexually explicit photographs and videos" of Grant in March 2020 with "other men both inside and outside the company" and that "coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved sexual demands."
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"McMahon recruited individuals to have sexual relations with Ms. Grant and/or with the two of them, directed Ms. Grant to visit Defendant Laurinaitis prior to the start of workdays for sexual encounters, and expected and directed Ms. Grant to engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, even during working hours," the complaint reads.
It details the alleged physical interactions, which she described as "acts of extreme cruelty and degradation." After McMahon's wife Linda found out about their relationship in January 2022, Grant was fired and signed an NDA "in exchange for payments," which the complaint states McMahon later "stopped making." He allegedly tried to "traffic" her to a WWE star even after she had left the company in March 2022.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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