Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Former WWE CEO Vince McMahon may be kept off the WWE board amid a lawsuit filed by investor Dennis Palkon, originally filed on Jan. 26.
Palkon is suing WWE Inc. for documents about the organization’s investigation into McMahon, which claimed the 77-year-old “raped and sexually assaulted employees and contractors over the course of decades.” Additionally, The Wall Street Journal reported in July that McMahon then paid over $12 million in “hush money” over the course of 16 years to quiet sexual misconduct and infidelity allegations.
“There are serious questions about how Vince McMahon obtained and delivered those funds to his victims,” the complaint reads, via Bloomberg Law.
Even though McMahon quickly retired as the WWE CEO in July after stepping down from his role in June, he returned to the company in December and now sits on the WWE board of directors as an executive chairman after he was unanimously voted to the position in January. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon took over as co-CEO after her father stepped down, but she resigned from the company Jan. 10, leaving Nick Khan as the sole CEO.
The lawsuit calls McMahon’s reappointment “a flagrant disregard for basic corporate governance norms.”
“Vince McMahon removed three independent directors and reappointed himself, as well as two of his longtime cronies,” the lawsuit said. “The apparent misconduct here is both myriad and extremely serious.”
Palkon’s case is seeking the WWE investigative documents in order to find any fiduciary breach allegations. If the fiduciary breach exists, then the “plaintiff intends to achieve what the board wanted to, but could not in light of Vince McMahon’s thuggery,” which is “to bar Vince McMahon from ever serving on the WWE board again.”
The investigation into McMahon’s sexual misconduct began in June after one report was released regarding the former CEO paying a former WWE paralegal who had an affair with him. She was paid by McMahon to stay quiet about their affair. This investigation then uncovered three other cases of McMahon paying women in the company to not speak out in July.
The other three payments include a former wrestler who said McMahon coerced her into putting his penis in her mouth and then did not renew her contract after she refused further advances. Then, a WWE contractor said she had received unsolicited nude photos from McMahon and that he had sexually harassed her on the job. Another employee said McMahon, who is married, initiated a sexual relationship with her, and she was paid $1 million to keep quiet about it.
Two more sexual assault allegations were released in a report from The Wall Street Journal in December. McMahon was accused of assaulting a former spa manager at a Southern California resort in 2011. Additionally, former WWE referee Rita Chatterton filed a report that McMahon raped her in the back of a limousine in 1992, and she is seeking $11.75 million in damages.