Lawsuit Alleges Sex Trafficking, Sexual Assault and “Hush Money”
Janel Grant, a former employee of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has filed a lawsuit against the company and its former chairman Vince McMahon, alleging serious offences including sex trafficking and sexual assault.
The lawsuit, lodged in Connecticut, contends that McMahon abused Grant during his tenure as WWE CEO and promised her career advancements in exchange for enduring his sexual and physical misconduct.
The accusations extend to McMahon’s alleged efforts to exploit Grant sexually to others associated with WWE.
The legal action also implicates WWE and John Laurinaitis, the organization’s ex-head of talent relations, in various charges such as sex trafficking, negligence, civil battery, and causing emotional distress. Grant is seeking to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement reportedly signed in 2022, which she argues was part of an effort to silence her.
A spokesperson for McMahon has vehemently denied these allegations, describing the lawsuit as filled with fabrications and distortions. McMahon, committed to defending his position, currently does not have legal representation from Jerry McDevitt, who was previously associated with the agreement involving Grant.
The lawsuit, filed only days after WWE’s parent company TKO which has McMahon as Executive Chairman of the Board just announced several major changes. First bringing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson onto the Board, and that TKO has secured a significant deal with Netflix for the rights to WWE’s leading show “Raw”.
The Rock has Come Back Only This Time to the Board!
TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO) (“TKO”), a premium sports and entertainment company, has appointed Dwayne Johnson to its Board of Directors.
Johnson, one of the most decorated WWE Superstars in company history and the most followed American man globally on social media platforms, brings decades of experience in live entertainment and sports to the Board. Through his expansive business portfolio, which includes Seven Bucks Productions, Teremana Tequila, ZOA Energy, Project Rock, and the recently combined spring football league, the United Football League (UFL), Johnson has significant experience identifying and cultivating revenue generating media rights, live events, sponsorship, licensing, and social media opportunities. The appointment of Johnson reflects TKO’s commitment to delivering long-term value and strong performance for shareholders through strategic growth initiatives across both UFC and WWE.
Vince McMahon, Executive Chairman of the Board, TKO, said: “Very few people on the planet understand the convergence of sports, entertainment, media, and business like Rock. We are proud to have him join the TKO board to help take our company to new heights.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, said: “My grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, and my dad, Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson, would’ve never thought this day would come. Which is why I’m very humbled to have a seat at the table that has decades of history and family legacy for me. A table that my family helped to build. Being on the TKO Board of Directors, and taking full ownership of my name, ‘The Rock’, is not only unprecedented, but incredibly inspiring as my crazy life is coming full circle. At my core, I’m a builder who builds for and serves the people, and Ari is building something truly game changing. I’m very motivated to help continue to globally expand our TKO, WWE, and UFC businesses as the worldwide leaders in sports and entertainment — while proudly representing so many phenomenal athletes and performers who show up every day putting in the hard work with their own two hands to make their dreams come true and deliver for our audiences. I’ve been there, I’m still there and this is for them.”
WWE to Netflix in 2025
Beginning in January 2025, Netflix will be the exclusive new home of Raw in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Latin America, among other territories, with additional countries and regions to be added over time. Likewise, as part of the agreement, Netflix will also become the home for all WWE shows and specials outside the U.S. as available, inclusive of Raw and WWE’s other weekly shows – SmackDown and NXT – as well as the company’s Premium Live Events, including WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble. WWE’s award-winning documentaries, original series and forthcoming projects will also be available on Netflix internationally beginning in 2025.
“This deal is transformative,” said Mark Shapiro, TKO President and COO. “It marries the can’t-miss WWE product with Netflix’s extraordinary global reach and locks in significant and predictable economics for many years. Our partnership fundamentally alters and strengthens the media landscape, dramatically expands the reach of WWE, and brings weekly live appointment viewing to Netflix.”
“We are excited to have WWE Raw, with its huge and passionate multigenerational fan base, on Netflix,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria. “By combining our reach, recommendations, and fandom with WWE, we’ll be able to deliver more joy and value for their audiences and our members. Raw is the best of sports entertainment, blending great characters and storytelling with live action 52 weeks a year and we’re thrilled to be in this long-term partnership with WWE.”
“In its relatively short history, Netflix has engineered a phenomenal track record for storytelling,” said Nick Khan, WWE President. “We believe Netflix, as one of the world’s leading entertainment brands, is the ideal long-term home for Raw’s live, loyal, and ever-growing fan base.”
Grant’s attorney, Ann Callis, emphasized the gravity of the accusations and Grant’s hope that her legal action will prevent similar incidents in the future.
The response from WWE to these allegations is currently awaited.