WWE Chief Vince McMahon agreed to pay more than $12m to four women to suppress sexual misconduct allegations

Former wrestler claims WWE chief coerced her into performing oral sex and subsequently demoted her

Gustaf Kilander
Friday 08 July 2022 19:12 BST
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WWE Chief Vince McMahon agreed to pay more than $12m to four women to suppress sexual misconduct and infidelity allegations, new report claims.

The World Wrestling Entertainment boss made the payment to four women over the course of 16 years, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The women were previously affiliated with the organisation and signed agreements that stop them from speaking about any possible legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old, the paper reported.

One of the previously unknown deals includes a settlement worth $7.5m with a former wrestler who claims that Mr McMahon coerced her into performing oral sex and subsequently demoted her and refused to renew her contract in 2005 after she had pushed back against more sexual contact, people familiar with the issue told the paper.

The people said that the wrestler, along with a lawyer, contacted Mr McMahon in 2018 and agreed on the payment for her to stay quiet.

In a separate agreement, a contractor working with WWE revealed to the company that she had received unrequested naked images from Mr McMahon. She also claimed that he sexually harassed her while she was on the job, according to people with knowledge of a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2008. Mr McMahon agreed to pay her around $1m, according to The Journal.

In an agreement signed in 2006, a former manager was paid around $1m to stay quiet after she worked for him for a decade before he then initiated a sexual relationship.

It was reported earlier that an agreement worth $3m had been reached between Mr McMahon and a former WWE paralegal with whom he reportedly had an affair.

Those with knowledge of an inquiry into the matter said that the WWE board is investigating the deal with the former paralegal, as well as the 2018 agreement with the former wrestler.

The board is also looking into claims that WWE executive John Laurinaitis, a former wrestler who went by the name Johnny Ace, had a sexual relationship with the paralegal. People familiar with the inquiry also said that the board is investigating a $1.5m non-disclosure agreement signed in 2012 in connection with an employee involving allegations of misconduct against Mr Laurinaitis, according to The Journal.

When he left his job to take on a smaller position at WWE in 2012, Mr Laurinaitis had been in charge of talent relations for eight years.

He left his top-level role around the same time as the $1.5m agreement was struck. The employee alleged that she had a relationship with Mr Laurinaitis and that she was demoted after she ended the relationship.

Mr McMahon put back Mr Laurinaitis as the head of talent relations last year but the board then put him on administrative leave.

A spokesperson for the company told the paper that WWE is cooperating with the inquiry conducted by the board. The spokesperson added that WWE is taking the claims seriously and that Mr McMahon’s relationship with the former paralegal was consensual.

Mr McMahon’s lawyer, Jerry McDevitt, told The Journal in a letter sent on 8 June that the former paralegal hadn’t made any harassment allegations against Mr McMahon and that “WWE did not pay any monies” to her “on her departure”.

The board has hired the outside firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP to conduct the investigation. The inquiry was initiated following several anonymous emails sent to directors earlier this year, according to The Journal.

The outlet reported that the emails outlined the deal between Mr McMahon and the former paralegal as well as allegations that Mr McMahon and Mr Laurinaitis took advantage of her.

Mr McMahon temporarily left his position as the CEO and chairman of WWE on 17 June after The Journal reported on the $3m agreement with the former paralegal.

He has said that he would cooperate with the investigation. His daughter Stephanie McMahon has replaced him while the investigation is ongoing. The company has said that Mr McMahon is still in charge of the creative department at WWE.

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