Former WWE wrestler Ashley Massaro says that she was sexually assaulted during a company visit to a military base in Kuwait in 2006, and that the pro wrestling organization persuaded her not to bring the matter to authorities, according to a report from the Boston Globe. Massaro alleges that WWE doctors examined her after the incident, and then WWE executives met with her “to apologize for their negligence, but [they] persuaded her that it would be best not to report it to appropriate authorities.”
The sexual assault allegations are part of Massaro’s involvement in a larger class action lawsuit against the company for injuries and wrongful deaths related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the concussion-related brain disease that affects athletes in contact sports, particularly if they suffer repeated blows to the head. Wrestler Chris Benoit was found to suffer from the disease after murdering his family and committing suicide in 2007, though Benoit had other issues as well, including steroid abuse. Shortly afterward, WWE banned steel chair shots to the head and instituted a “Wellness Policy” to drug test wrestlers. The 2015 Will Smith film Concussion dealt with CTE, its effects on NFL players, and the football organization’s attempts to suppress the research of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) into the disease. Omalu is the doctor who diagnosed Benoit with the CTE after his death.
Massaro joins other former WWE wrestlers in the suit, according to the report, including Perry Saturn, as well as the family of Balls Mahoney, who was diagnosed with CTE after dying of a heart attack in April. Massaro claims to suffer from depression, memory loss, and migraines, which are symptoms of CTE. However, the disease can only be diagnosed by examining the brain during an autopsy. Other wrestlers involved in the class action suit according to an earlier report by the Chicago Tribune include Jimmy Snuka, Road Warrior Animal, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Chavo Guerrero, King Kong Bundy, Sabu, and former referees Earl and Dave Hebner. The Boston Globe notes that WWE has yet to lose a wrongful death suit, though the NFL settled with former players for $1 billion in a similar suit, while a suit against the NHL is currently ongoing.
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