There are strong indications that the founder and former CEO of the World Wrestling Organization, Vince McMahon, is under federal investigation. Prosecutors are examining the details of recent allegations indicting McMahon of sex trafficking.
If the allegations turn out to be true and to break federal laws, federal prosecutors will have to take up the case. The said allegations came up last week when a former employee filed a lawsuit against WWE, McMahon, and a former executive at the company.
A close WWE associate of McMahon said the entertainment executive admitted having one of his phones seized by federal officials. The intent is probably to extract relevant evidence for the investigation from McMahon’s phone. Interestingly, news about the McMahon investigation first broke on the Wall Street Journal.
The hearing of the sex trafficking suit started last week, and like his attorneys must have recommended, McMahon pleaded not guilty to the allegations. However, a day after, McMahon resigned as executive chairman of WWE’s parent company, TKO Group. In fact, he also left his seat as a board member and no longer has a job description with WWE.
The name of the plaintiff in the McMahon sex trafficking lawsuit is Janel Grant. Grant was a former employee of WWE who claimed that she was “the victim of physical and emotional abuse, sexual assault, and trafficking at WWE.” Grant’s January 25 lawsuit indicts McMahon, WWE, and Laurinitis, a former WWE executive.
Both Laurinitis and McMahon pled not guilty in the allegations against them. During a briefing from last week, McMahon said, “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.”
Likewise, Laurinitis’s lawyer issued a statement on his client’s behalf; he said, “My client vigorously denies the allegations raised against him in this lawsuit. We will respond in the appropriate forum eventually.”
This is not the first time McMahon will have to defend against charges of sexual misconduct. So, legal analysts do not expect this one to ruffle his feathers.
Rita Chatterton sued McMahon in 1992 for rape. Chatterton was WWE’s first female referee. Despite pleading not guilty to the charges, McMahon eventually settled with Chatterton out of court. Two years after the Chatterton lawsuit, McMahon also faced federal conspiracy charges on alleged steroid use by WWE wrestlers. The sitting jury ruled McMahon as not guilty in the second case.
Another instance of McMahon weathering a legal storm was in 2022. No one can tell for sure if the former CEO will get reinstated to his role at TKO Group after the Grant suit winds up.
This hope is alive because something similar happened to McMahon in 2022. After some investigations, news got out that he paid four different women a total sum of $15 million. Why? McMahon was forcing the women in question to keep quiet and not go to court over sexual misconduct that spanned a period of 16 years.
Soon after the $15 million investigation of 2022 went public, McMahon stepped down as CEO of WWE. However, he still maintained his influence as the majority shareholder. Eventually, the board restored McMahon to his position last year.
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