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Reports: WWE founder Vince McMahon under federal investigation

Former WWE head Vince McMahon allegedly settled multiple sexual misconduct suits and potentially violated federal law, sources say.
Reports: WWE founder Vince McMahon under federal investigation
Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 02, 2024

Federal prosecutors are investigating WWE co-founder Vince McMahon over sexual abuse and trafficking allegations, according to multiple publications.

The news, first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal, builds on the sexual misconduct case that began to surround the billionaire in 2022, when the publication first reported McMahon had made payouts totaling more than $12 million to several accusers while he was CEO. 

The recent report, confirmed by NBC News and ABC News, states federal agents executed a search warrant for the 78-year-old's phone and delivered him a grand jury subpoena over the summer, requesting any documents related to "'rape, sex trafficking, sexual assault, commercial sex transaction, harassment or discrimination' against current or former WWE employees."

The subpoena reportedly includes the names of at least four women formerly employed at WWE — some of whom are now in contact with federal prosecutors in New York — who allegedly received settlements and signed nondisclosure agreements over their accusations against McMahon. One of those names was former WWE employee Janel Grant, who filed a lawsuit against McMahon and another former WWE executive last week. 

SEE MORE: WWE founder Vince McMahon resigns after sex abuse lawsuit filed

In the suit, Grant claims she was subjected to "psychological torture and physical violence" at the hands of McMahon, whom she accuses of forcing her to perform sexual acts to keep her job, and trafficking her to other men at the company. The suit also states that McMahon agreed to pay her a $3 million settlement to keep quiet but that he stopped paying after the first $1 million. 

McMahon denied Grant's accusations but resigned as executive chairman of WWE'S parent company, TKO Group, the day after. He had previously stepped down as WWE's CEO in 2022, when the initial allegations spurred the company's board to investigate, but returned in 2023, soon after negotiating a sale of the company that created TKO Group. 

In response to the Wall Street Journal's new report, McMahon said the probe won't find he was involved in any wrongdoing. He also pointed to his statement made last week, which read, "I intend to vigorously defend myself against these baseless accusations, and look forward to clearing my name."

McMahon has previously defended himself against other allegations of sexual misconduct, including that of Rita Chatterton — whom the Journal reports is named in the grand jury subpoena.

In 1992, Chatterton publicly accused McMahon of raping her while she was employed as WWE's first female referee. The empire's head denied the allegations but agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with Chatterton in late 2022.

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