Earlier in the year, The Wall Street Journal reported that WWE’s Board of Directors had began an investigation into an alleged $3 million “hush money” settlement reached by Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon with a former female employee, with McMahon stepping down from both his roles temporarily as a result.
The Wall Street Journal have now provided another update on the developing situation, revealing that McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million over the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, an amount far greater than previously suspected.
The report then confirms that payouts were made to four women formerly employed by WWE, all of whom signed agreements with Mr. McMahon that prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive, according to people familiar with the deals as well as documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal themselves.
“Vince McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.’s longtime leader, agreed to pay more than $12 million over the past 16 years to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity, an amount far larger than previously known. The payouts went to four women, all formerly affiliated with WWE, who signed agreements with Mr. McMahon that prohibit them from discussing potential legal claims against or their relationships with the 76-year-old executive, according to people familiar with the deals as well as documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”-The Wall Street Journal
One of the previously unreported settlements brought to light by this report include a $7.5 million pact with a former wrestler who alleged that Mr. McMahon coerced her into giving him oral sex. Said former wrestler is noted to have resisted further sexual advances made by McMahon, resulting in their demotion, and subsequently her contract was not extended in 2005. It is then revealed that the wrestler in question and her attorney approached McMahon in 2018, where the payment in return for her silence was negotiated.
Another previously unreported settlement saw a WWE contractor present the company with unsolicited nude photos of Mr. McMahon she reported receiving from him and allege that he had sexually harassed her on the job. In this case, according to sources close to the situation, a $1 million settlement was reached in 2008.
“In another previously unreported deal, a WWE contractor presented the company with unsolicited nude photos of Mr. McMahon she reported receiving from him and alleged that he had sexually harassed her on the job, according to people familiar with the woman’s 2008 nondisclosure agreement. Mr. McMahon agreed to pay her roughly $1 million, these people said.”-The Wall Street Journal
A third, previously unreported settlement saw a former manager who had worked 10 years for Mr. McMahon recieve $1 million to stay quiet regarding an alleged sexual relationship the then-Chairman and CEO initiated with her.
The report then highlights another investigation currently underway regarding a $1.5 million nondisclosure agreement reached in 2012 with an employee involving misconduct claims against WWE executive Laurinaitis. According to those familiar with said agreement, the employee alleged she had an affair with Mr. Laurinaitis and that he demoted her after she broke it off.
John Laurinaitis was reinstated as Head of Talent Relations by McMahon last year, however the report noted that according to a person familiar with the matter, WWE has since placed Mr. Laurinaitis on administrative leave.
“The board also is investigating allegations that WWE executive John Laurinaitis had a sexual relationship with the same former paralegal, according to people familiar with the inquiry. Additionally, the board is looking at a $1.5 million nondisclosure agreement reached in 2012 with an employee involving misconduct claims against Mr. Laurinaitis, these people said. Mr. Laurinaitis, a former wrestler known as Johnny Ace, had been head of WWE talent relations for eight years when he was forced to step down in 2012 and take a smaller role at the company. His demotion came around the same time as the $1.5 million deal with the employee, who alleged she had an affair with Mr. Laurinaitis and that he demoted her after she broke it off, people familiar with the nondisclosure agreement said.”-The Wall Street Journal
A number of details regarding the Board of Directors’ investigation still remain unclear however, as The Wall Street Journal were unable to confirm whether the nondisclosure agreements involving the contractor and the former manager are included, or how far back the investigation will go. A spokesperson for the board’s independent directors declined to comment, a stance similarly taken up by both McMahon and Laurinaitis.
A company spokesperson has said the company is cooperating with the board inquiry.
As always, we will do our best to ensure that any updates to this developing situation are brought to your attention as soon as possible.