Embattled WWE mogul Vince McMahon made three additional hush-money payments to former employees and contractors over sexual misconduct allegations, a new report from The Wall Street Journal claims. McMahon, who temporarily stepped down as Chairman and CEO of WWE following an earlier report by the same newspaper revealing the WWE board is investigating a $3 million payment to a former paralegal over what was said to be a consensual relationship with McMahon. The board was also said to be investigating other payments involving sexual misconduct claims against McMahon and John Laurenitis, who was placed on administrative leave from his role as head of talent relations.
The new report from The Wall Street Journal lays out three additional claims. In one, a former wrestler was allegedly coerced to give McMahon oral sex and then demoted and eventually released in 2005 when she refused to engage in further sexual activity. She says that McMahon paid her $7.5 million in 2018 to agree to stay quiet. In a second, a contractor was reportedly paid $1 million in 2008 after presenting the company with what she claimed were unsolicited nude photos of McMahon along with claims of workplace sexual harassment. Finally, a third woman who worked as a manager under McMahon for ten years was paid $1 million in 2006 to stay quiet about a sexual relationship with him.
In the wake of the original report, McMahon adopted a defiant attitude, appearing multiple times on WWE television in front of adoring crowds in an apparent display of power. McMahon's daughter, Stephanie McMahon, stepped into the role of interim CEO when her father stepped down, but Vince McMahon has retained his role as head of creative for the company's television shows. McMahon is widely viewed by the company and outsiders as tied to WWE's success and also wields a large amount of power with a special class of stock that grants the ex-CEO & Chairman's family members 10x the voting power of regular shareholders.
In addition to the recent reports about non-disclosure agreements, a report in New York Magazine recently revived a sexual assault allegation against Vince McMahon by WWE's first female referee dating from the 1980s, which was publicly reported the following decade but failed to gain traction. The various reports of hush money payments have also resulted in several attempts to file class-action lawsuits against the company on behalf of stockholders.
WWE SmackDown airs on Fox tonight, so we'll see if McMahon decides to appear publicly again and, if he does, whether crowds remain as willing to applaud him, even bowing down before him as he walks to the ring as seen in his other recent appearances.