In a previously unpublished statement given before her 2019 death by suicide, former WWE wrestler Ashley Massaro said that Vince McMahon sexually preyed on female wrestlers and that she was punished for rejecting his advances by being given scripts she believed were meant to destroy her reputation.
The statement, published by VICE News on Friday, was given to her lawyers while they were working on a sworn affidavit, which was published shortly after her death. She details how McMahon’s behavior towards her changed following the release of her Playboy cover.
“On one of these occasions, Vince was attempting to get me alone with him in his hotel room late at night and I felt extraordinarily uncomfortable. He began calling the hotel room phone and my cell phone nonstop.”– Ashley Massaro
The affidavit put forth an allegation that she was raped on a military base in Kuwait while on a tour with WWE and that management covered it up. WWE publicly denied that its upper management knew about the rape allegation. However, a lawyer for former executive John Laurinaitis said that he and “most of upper management” were aware of it. A spokesperson for TKO refused to comment to Vice News when asked about the details presented in Massaro’s statement.
In the previously unpublished statement, Massaro alleged that she saw McMahon “making out” with female wrestlers in the locker room, and that he sexually harassed her. There have long been rumors of such behavior, though any women who may have experienced it have not come forward out of fear of retaliation from WWE. Massaro also said that after she rejected his advances, he wrote scripts for her to perform that she believed were meant to end her career and destroy her reputation, which she also states happened to another female wrestler (whose name is redacted) before she left the company.
“Immediately after that night, Vince started writing my promos for me. Vince does not write promos for female wrestlers—that is the job of the creative department—and he certainly wouldn’t have, under any normal circumstances, written a promo for me. But he did, and the promos were written with the clear intention of ruining my career. I brought the first script Vince wrote for me to the WWE employee in charge of Creative at the time, Michael Hayes, and he said, ‘you’re not saying this, who the [expletive] wrote this?’ and I told him that Vince did. He said, ‘Well kid, these are the breaks,’ meaning that Vince wanted to end my career and destroy my reputation on my way out.”– Ashley Massaro
McMahon’s behavior did not stop after Massaro refused his advances.
“After that night, each time I walk by him, he would make vulgar sexual comments that were clearly designed to make me uncomfortable.”– Ashley Massaro
Massaro gave her statement as part of a class action lawsuit against WWE, where wrestlers who previously worked for the company sought damages related to traumatic brain injuries (primarily concussions). The lawsuit was dismissed in 2018.
As part of the suit, lawyers Konstantine Kyros and Erica Mirabella collected statements from dozens of wrestlers, including Massaro, and refined them into sworn affidavits. Mirabella says they spoke about Massaro’s experiences in WWE, and then Mirabella wrote a draft affidavit. Massaro reviewed the draft and then offered feedback, new details, and edits, which Mirabella used in preparing a new draft. They repeated the process until Mirabella finished.
The unpublished statement was left unpublished after members of Massaro’s legal team concluded that it wasn’t relevant since the lawsuit was about concussions.
McMahon resigned from TKO two weeks ago after being named alongside WWE and former talent-relations head John Laurinaitis as defendants in a civil sex trafficking lawsuit by former employee Janel Grant. That resignation came nearly two years after his initial resignation, which came after millions of dollars worth of hush money payments to former female employees were uncovered following an internal investigation.