Dutchess County Man Who Accused WWE of Pedophilia Commits Suicide
A former Ring Boy for the WWE has committed suicide after years of claiming the wrestling organization was complicit in child abuse.
According to Wrestling Edge, Thomas Cole of Fishkill took his own life on February 12. The 50-year-old man found himself in the spotlight in the early 1990s after making allegations of child abuse against the WWE.
Cole was a ring boy in 1985 when Vince McMahon's wrestling empire was still called the WWF. Documents uncovered by Ringside News in 2019 show a history of sexual abuse allegations made against the WWF. Then just 13 years old, Cole was taken on tour with the WWF as a "ring boy." The position is similar to that of a batboy in baseball. Cole's job was to serve as a glorified "gofer," assisting employees on the road. That's where he claimed the abuse began.
Cole alleged that another employee would regularly film him with a video camera "while fondling the boy’s feet and masturbating." Cole says that he was harassed by "several WWF employees" during his time as a ring boy, but was afraid to speak up.
He said he was grabbed in the genitals numerous times by another top WWF official, but never said anything because he was scared. Cole said the sexual harassment continued unabated until he was fired in February 1990 after rebuffing an advance by still another WWF official. In that incident, Cole said, he was driven to the WWF official’s house, where he was asked to smoke marijuana, snort cocaine and have homosexual sex. When Cole rejected his advances, the official refused to take him home, Cole said. So Cole slept in the WWF official’s van in the driveway. The next day Cole was fired.
After Cole's suicide earlier this month, his brother Lee seemed to lay the blame on WWE owner, Vince McMahon. He tweeted, "My brother Tom Committed suicide a couple of hours ago. Vince Mc Mahon and his wife Linda let child molesters into their companies years ago and did everything possible to cover up what they did to my brother. I hope you can sleep good at night Vince. Our family suffers. Thank U."
In an interview submitted into court records, McMahon admitted that WWE ring announcer, Mel Phillips had a "‘peculiar and unnatural interest in children for years" which lead to his firing. However, a representative of the WWE says that McMahon could not have known any abuse was actually going on.
The only persons implicated were not senior officials, nor were there any claims of anything approximating conventional forms of sexual abuse such as rape, sodomy, etc. Instead, [a young former WWE employee] claimed Mel Phillips had a foot fetish and played with his feet.
Tom Cole is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and their three children. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day. You can call the hotline at 800-273-8255.