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WWE boss Vince McMahon resigns after former employee files sex abuse lawsuit

WWE boss Vince McMahon resigns after former employee files sex abuse lawsuit

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) chief Vince McMahon has stepped down amid allegations that he sexually exploited and trafficked a former employee to other men during his tenure as CEO.

In a statement released on Friday, Mr McMahon said that he has decided to resign as executive chairman of TKO, the parent company of the WWE, and was resigning from the board “out of respect” for both the companies. He has denied the sexual abuse and trafficking allegations levelled by former employee Janel Grant.

“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," he said.

Mr McMahon added: "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.”

His exit from the wrestling giant was confirmed by the current president Nick Khan who said Mr McMahon has tendered his resignation from his positions as TKO executive chairman and from the TKO Board of Directors.

"He will no longer have a role with TKO Group holdings or WWE,” Mr Khan told the sports broadcaster.

Ms Grant said that her former boss trafficked her as a "a pawn to secure talent deals" with prospective wrestlers the company was trying to court.

A lawsuit has been filed by Ms Grant in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut on Thursday, naming Mr McMahon, and John Laurinaitis, the company’s former head of talent relations, as defendants.

She is seeking to void a nondisclosure agreement that she reached with Mr McMahon in 2022. He reportedly offered to pay her $3m for signing the NDA, but Ms Grant claims he only paid her $1m and refused to make further payments.

In her lawsuit, Ms Grant said that the former WWE CEO befriended her in 2019 when the two lived in the same apartment building.

She alleges that Mr McMahon had learned that Ms Grant’s parents had died and that she was looking for work.

The suit goes on to claim that Mr McMahon eventually began to pressure Ms Grant into a sexual relationship, according to CNBC.

“When McMahon pushed Ms Grant for a physical relationship in return for long-promised employment at WWE, she felt trapped in an impossible situation: submitting to McMahon’s sexual demands or facing ruin,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims that given "Mr McMahon’s omnipotent position at WWE, coercion was inherent in his increasingly depraved sexual demands."

Ms Grant’s lawyer said the lawsuit is meant to highlight the abuses Ms Grant allegedly suffered and to hold the company accountable for turning "a blind eye" to her exploitation.

“Today’s complaint seeks to hold accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked plaintiff Janel Grant, as well as the organisation that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse and then swept it under the rug,” Ann Callis, Ms Grant’s lawyer, said in a statement.