She Said Vince McMahon Sexually Assaulted Her in a Tanning Booth. Police Found 'Probable Cause.' Prosecutors Shrugged.
She said the wrestling and future XFL magnate told her after she got away that “he was only trying to have some fun.” Then a Florida prosecutor decided not to press charges.
On a Saturday afternoon in January of 2006, a young woman walked into a Papa John’s pizza restaurant at the end of a Boca Raton strip mall and asked for help. The woman, who worked at a tanning salon a few doors down, was in tears. A man had just tried to “attack and rape her” at the salon, she told an employee of the pizza joint.
That man was later identified as Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment. The Boca Raton police believed they had enough evidence to file an arrest warrant against McMahon for misdemeanor simple battery after the tanning salon employee accused him of groping her and trying to kiss her, according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast.
The allegation against McMahon was covered at the time by local media and in an Associated Press report. Some of the details about the alleged crime were included in the reports, but press attention dissipated after McMahon was not criminally charged, with prosecutors citing a lack of independent evidence to charge him.
McMahon, who was married to wife Linda, now the chief of the Small Business Administration for President Donald Trump, strongly denied the allegation at the time. He did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
In announcing this week his plan for a new XFL, McMahon declared that "the quality of the human being is very important. Just as important as the quality of the player." In his football league, he continued, “you want someone who does not have any criminality whatsoever associated with them. Even if you have a DUI, you will not play in the XFL."
A handful of 2006 press reports remain online (Woman, 22, Says McMahon Tried Too Many Moves), but many others have disappeared or can only be found on forums where they appear to have been pasted without permission.
McMahon’s accuser, who was 22 at the time, walked into the Boca Raton Police Department on Jan. 29, 2006 and told officer T.E. Baker that she had been groped by McMahon at the tanning salon the previous day.
The woman told Baker that then 60-year-old McMahon walked into Tanzabar at about 5 p.m. and bought 20 minutes of tanning in bed No. 3.
Before he got on the bed, McMahon asked the woman to take a photo of him with his phone so he could send it to his girlfriend in New York, she told police. When she handed the phone back to him, he began showing her nude and semi-nude photos of himself that were on it, she said. She then asked him to stop and said it was inappropriate behavior, according to the documents.
McMahon then tanned for 20 minutes and chatted with the salon attendant and another customer after he was done.
She then went to clean a tanning bed, but McMahon followed her into the room and shut the door behind him, she told police. There were no surveillance cameras in the tanning rooms at Tanzabar, which is now permanently closed.
Then, according to the documents: McMahon grabbed her and tried to kiss her. She said she put both of her hands on his chest and tried to push him away. McMahon continued to grab her, touching her waist and butt and attempting to lift up her button-down shirt while rubbing her breasts with the back side of his arms, she told police.
She said he managed to work her shirt up a few inches above her waist, but she pushed him off and got out of the tanning room. McMahon, she told police, then said “that he was only trying to have some fun.”
Advances rejected, she said McMahon left the salon and got into his parked Hummer. He then waited in the parking lot for 20 minutes, she told police.
That’s when she broke down in tears and walked to the Papa John’s to get help, according to the documents. She also called Tanzabar’s manager at the time, Caroline Clear.
Clear said the woman started to cry on the phone as she told her that an “older gentlemen followed me into a room and tried to kiss me.”
The attendant asked Clear if she should call the police, but Clear urged her not to and told her she was coming to the salon. When she arrived, she saw a man sitting in a black Hummer in the parking lot and a Papa John’s employee in the salon, she told police.
McMahon’s accuser then showed Clear how she used her hands to push him off of her and said this happens to her “all the time,” according to the documents.
Later, the Papa John's employee, William Wells, and the other salon customer that McMahon had chatted with that day were able to pick him out of a photo lineup. McMahon’s accuser, however, could not identify the wrestling chief as her attacker, the documents show.
Clear said in a recent phone call that she does not remember specifics from that day and noted it was a part-time job she held while she was in college. Attempts to reach Wells were not successful.
An attorney for McMahon sent a letter to police at the time that said he denies any allegations of personal wrongdoing in regards to the salon employee.
The police report, which redacts the victim’s name, states that “___ delayed reporting the incident after speaking to her store managers and owners. The managers and owners did not want ____ to report to the incident to the police. ____ advised her parents of the incident and after speaking to them felt that the incident should be reported to the police. ____ does want to prosecute.”
The report concludes: “There is probable cause to believe that Vincent McMahon did actually and intentionally touch against the will of ____, contrary to Florida Statute 784.03 (1).”
The case was marked “cleared by warrant” after the police turned it over to prosecutors. That designation means police have established probable cause for a person’s arrest and are seeking the State Attorney’s Office to accept the case and issue an arrest warrant, a spokeswoman for the Boca Raton Police Department said.
But, probable cause for the police department was not enough for the State Attorney to bring charges against McMahon.
“The filing standard for the state is above and beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mike Edmondson, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office said. “Prosecutors have to file at a higher standard, which is proof above a reasonable doubt. It’s a much different standard than probable cause.”
Allegations like the one made against McMahon, Edmondson continued, are often difficult to prosecute because of a lack of witnesses and physical evidence.
“A misdemeanor that is not done in the presence of a law enforcement officer in Florida generally is not a prosecutable case unless there is a independent witnesses and or physical evidence as in photos — that kind of thing,” he said.
Thus, State v. Vincent K. McMahon, case number 2006WA001381A99, was not pursued by prosecutors and was marked a “no-file case” by the State Attorney’s Office.
The police report notes the case’s status as “EXCEPTIONALLY CLEARED” and the State Attorney records are gone now, in accordance with Florida state law. “All 2006 intake no files were destroyed 01/29/09,” they wrote in a statement.