Home Entertainment Vince McMahon Faces New Wave of Sexual Assault Allegations, Cuts Ties With WWE (Again)

Vince McMahon Faces New Wave of Sexual Assault Allegations, Cuts Ties With WWE (Again)

by News7

The scene at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday seemed to be a happy one: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stood shoulder-to-shoulder with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) co-founder Vince McMahon. The magnate and the action star were all smiles as he rang the exchange’s opening bell, a gesture intended to celebrate his move to join the board of the WWE’s parent company, TKO Group Holdings. Just a few days later, the makeup of TKO’s board would change again, but this time, McMahon was presumably less jolly. 

The 78-year-old abruptly resigned as the executive chairman of the board of directors on Friday after a former employee accused McMahon of sex trafficking, rape, and workplace harassment.

McMahon’s statement said he was leaving the board “out of respect” for WWE and TKO Group.

The allegations, which were made as part of a lawsuit brought by Janel Grant in Connecticut’s US District Court, are not the first time McMahon has faced high-profile claims of abuse. In 2022, McMahon temporarily resigned from the role he then held with the WWE following a Wall Street Journal report detailing millions in so-called “hush money” allegedly paid out to “keep secret allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.” A subsequent investigation by the WWE’s board “found that over 16 years he had spent $14.6 million in payments to women who had accused him of sexual misconduct,” the New York Times reports; a second internal investigation revealed an additional $5 million paid to two women. McMahon, for his part, denied that any interactions he had were nonconsensual. 

McMahon was also accused of sexually assaulting a Florida tanning salon employee in 2006. He was arrested by Boca Raton police and charged with sexual battery, but prosecutors declined to move forward with the case, the Daily Beast reported in 2018.

Despite the multiple scandals, McMahon—who owned the bulk of the WWE’s shares—returned to the company in 2023, where he was seemingly re-embraced by Johnson and others, including influential Hollywood figure Ari Emanuel. Emanuel’s company, Endeavor, merged with the WWE in 2023; the new parent organization, known as TKO, named McMahon its executive chairman.

But that changed on Friday. According to the WSJ, which was the first to report on Thursday’s lawsuit, Grant accused McMahon of multiple 2021 assaults, said he coerced her into relations with other company executives, and alleged that he shared revealing photos and videos of Grant with other staffers, among other claims. The full filing, which details Grant’s claims in graphic detail, is available online. 

The timing for the suit couldn’t have been worse for TKO, which named Johnson to its board Tuesday. “I’m very motivated to help continue to globally expand our TKO, WWE, and UFC businesses as the worldwide leaders in sports and entertainment,” Johnson said, name-checking two McMahon-affiliated businesses in a statement reported by ESPN. The same day, the company announced a landmark deal with Netflix in which the WWE’s flagship show, Raw, would depart linear television for the streaming giant.

Both moves resulted in glowing comments from folks like Johnson’s fellow wrestler-turned-actor John Cena, who told Variety that he “couldn’t be happier” for McMahon’s companies.

“WWE’s always my family,” Cena said of the formerly McMahon-led org this week. “I’ll always be there in any capacity they’ll have me.”

Cena, I should note, has been a longtime supporter of McMahon’s. He addressed the earlier claims against McMahon in a 2023 interview with the Associated Press, saying then, “I love Vince McMahon. He’s everything you could want in a great friend, business partner, father, mentor. I love the man.” When asked about the allegations against McMahon, Cena replied, “When you love somebody, you take them as imperfectly perfect as they are. We all make mistakes, we all have poor decisions.”

It’s unclear if Cena continues to hold that view, and a request for comment was not responded to as of publication time. However, by Friday, TKO started to distance itself from its executive chair.

“Mr. McMahon does not control TKO nor does he oversee the day-to-day operations of WWE,” the company said in a statement. “While this matter predates our TKO executive team’s tenure at the company, we take Ms. Grant’s horrific allegations very seriously and are addressing this matter internally.”

On Friday, TKO staffers were informed via email that McMahon had left his company once more. “He will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or WWE,” TKO president Nick Khan said in a memo viewed by the NYT.

Source : VanityFair

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