This story contains details of sexual assault.
A lawyer for John Laurinaitis has claimed “most upper level management” knew that Ashley Massaro alleged she had been raped during a 2007 WWE visit to a U.S. military base.
Tim Marchman of Vice News reported on Wednesday that Edward Brennan, who is representing Laurinaitis, said his client, “like most upper level management”, became aware of Massaro’s allegations.
The admission flies in the face of a WWE statement issued after Ashley Massaro’s death in 2019.
At that time, the company stated, in part:
At no time was Vince McMahon or the management of WWE ever informed by Ashley Massaro or anybody else that she had been sexually assaulted, drugged, raped or sodomized by a military doctor with a nurse standing guard while on a goodwill tour in 2007 to U.S. military bases in Kuwait. In fact, if she ever articulated such a claim to WWE, we would have reported it immediately to the Base Commander.
At no time was there ever a meeting with Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John Laurinaitis or other company executives in which she told them of such a claim and was instructed to keep it quiet.
Ashley Massaro died in 2019. Later that year, her attorney released a sworn affidavit in which she alleged in detail a horrifying incident at a U.S. military base in Kuwait. She claimed that a man representing himself as a U.S. Army doctor injected her with a paralyzing substance and raped her.
The affidavit claimed that Vince McMahon and Laurinaitis told Massaro not to discuss the incident to protect WWE’s relationship with the military.
In full, Edward Brennan said:
Any allegations that Mr. Laurinaitis helped to cover up an alleged rape allegation is an outright lie. Johnny, like most upper level management at sometime became aware of the allegations and ensured all proper WWE protocols were followed, including privacy for the alleged victim. We object to the use of the term cover up as no such plan or plot ever took place to hide or assist in the alleged rape.
Vice’s reporting also includes the detail that the Naval Criminal Investigation Service opened an investigation into Massaro’s allegations in June 2019, which was closed in January 2020. No further details on the NCIS findings were immediately available.
Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis and WWE are the subject of a current civil action by former employee Janel Grant, alleging serious sexual assault including rape, sex trafficking and grave physical and emotional harm.