WWE’s board is investigating a supposed $3 million hush-money settlement that CEO Vince McMahon is alleged to have paid a woman, according to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal.
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According to documents and people familiar with the board’s inquiry, McMahon is said to have had an ongoing affair with the woman — who worked as a paralegal for the company — prior to offering her the settlement, which would prevent her from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making critical statements about him.
The board’s investigation began earlier this year in April and revealed various older nondisclosure agreements involving claims of misconduct by both McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the head of talent relations at WWE, by several former female WWE employees.
Board members first learned of the initial $3 million agreement via a series of anonymous emails they received from a friend of the paralegal. The first email claimed that McMahon initially hired the woman at a salary of $100,000, but later increased it to $200,000 after beginning a sexual relationship with her. The email went on to allege that McMahon then “gave her like a toy” to Laurinaitis. “My friend was so scared so she quit after Vince McMahon and lawyer Jerry paid her millions of dollars to shut up,” the initial email to the board said.
The report notes that while the board’s outside counsel was still collecting information, the totality of the payments was “in the millions of dollars.” The preliminary findings from the board indicate that McMahon used his personal funds to pay former female employees, all of whom signed nondisclosure agreements.
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The WWE’s response to the situation simply acknowledged the issue and said that it was cooperating fully with the investigation, while a letter from McMahon’s attorney Jerry McDevitt said that no payments from WWE were ever made to the woman, nor did the woman ever make any claims of harassment about Mr. McMahon.