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WWE boss Vince McMahon quits after sex-trafficking lawsuit

Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) boss Vince McMahon has quit in the wake of sex-trafficking allegations from a former employee.

Janel Grant alleges Mr McMahon and another ex-executive, John Laurinaitis, sexually assaulted and trafficked her to entice wrestling talent.

Mr McMahon, 78, said in a statement that he had made the decision to resign as executive chairman of TKO, the parent company of WWE.

He has denied the allegations.

"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," Mr McMahon said in a statement on Friday.

He 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."

In a staff memo obtained by ESPN, WWE president Nick Khan shared that "Vince McMahon has tendered his resignation from his positions as TKO Executive Chairman and on the TKO Board of Directors".

"He will no longer have a role with TKO Group holdings or WWE."

Ms Grant, a former WWE employee, accused Mr McMahon and Mr Laurinaitis of trafficking her to other men "as a sexual pawn to entice world-famous wrestling talent". The BBC could not reach Mr Laurinaitis for comment.

Ms Grant was unemployed at the time of meeting Mr McMahon and was dealing with her deceased parent's bankruptcy.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr McMahon pressured her into a physical relationship, making her promises of a job at WWE.

According to the legal case, Ms Grant went on to work at WWE's headquarters in Connecticut between 2019 and 2022.

She says she felt trapped "in an impossible situation... submitting to Mr McMahon's sexual demands or facing ruin".

The lawsuit alleges Mr McMahon "expected and directed Ms Grant to engage in sexual activity at the WWE headquarters, even during working hours".

She also accuses both defendants of sexually assaulting her at WWE headquarters in Connecticut of June 2021.

Back in 2022, the WWE board announced an investigation over an alleged $3m (£2.5m) settlement between Mr McMahon and an ex-employee with whom he had a consensual affair.

The 78-year-old was replaced as acting chief executive and chairperson by his daughter. In January 2023, he returned as WWE chairperson after the investigation ended.

In Thursday's legal filing, Ms Grant called the WWE's special committee investigation "a sham" and accused the company of attempting to "sweep the matter under the rug". She says the committee never contacted her or requested documents from her.

Ms Grant's lawyer, Ann Callis, said in a statement to the media that her client hopes the lawsuit "will prevent other women from being victimised".

Mr McMahon has overseen WWE's growth into a media juggernaut whose weekly content is broadcast in more than 180 countries and 30 languages.