A little over 24 hours after a former WWE staffer filed a lawsuit against him for abuse and sexual exploitation, Vince McMahon officially resigned from WWE and UFC’s parenting company, TKO Group Holdings.
The former WWE employee, identified as Janel Grant, filed a lawsuit on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut naming McMahon, WWE, and former head of talent relations John Laurinaitis as defendants.
In the lawsuit, Grant claimed that McMahon, Laurinaitis, and WWE violated the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act by allegedly trafficking her to other men “as a pawn to secure talent deals” with prospective wrestlers. She also made claims of civil battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress concerning the years-long sexual and emotional abuse she endured while being employed by WWE.
In a statement to Deadline, Vince McMahon defended himself against Grant’s allegations. “I stand by my prior statement that Ms. Grant’s lawsuit is replete with lies, obscene made-up instances that never occurred,” he said. McMahon also described the lawsuit as being a vindictive distortion of the truth.
“I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations,” McMahon continued. “And look forward to clearing my name.”
However, Vince McMahon quickly addressed why he decided to leave TKO Group Holdings. “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 made 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.”
WWE president, Nick Khan, reportedly told staffers in an internal email that Vince McMahon had resigned. He also said McMahon “will no longer have a role with TKO Group Holdings or WWE.”
The Legal Team for Vince McMahon’s Alleged Victim Speaks Out
Along with Vince McMahon’s statement defending himself, the legal team behind Grant has also released a statement about the lawsuit.
Released after the filing, the statement from Ann Callis of Holland Law Firm, reads, “Today’s complaint seeks to hold accountable two WWE executives who sexually assaulted and trafficked Plaintiff Janel Grant. As well as the organization that facilitated or turned a blind eye to the abuse and then swept it under the rug.”
Callis describes Grant as being an incredibly private and courageous person. The attorney points out that Grant has suffered deeply at the hands of both McMahon and Laurinaitis. “Ms. Grant hopes that her lawsuit will prevent other women from being victimized.”
“The organization is well aware of Mr. McMahon’s history of depraved behavior,” Callis said. “And it’s time that they take responsibility for the misconduct of its leadership.”
While she is suing for an undisclosed amount of monetary damages, Grant is also requesting a declaratory judgment that a nondisclosure agreement she signed while employed at WWE is void and enforceable. This will allow her to speak out against McMahon and Laurinaitis freely.
Meanwhile, Laurinaitis has not released any statements about the lawsuit.