Tom Cole, a former WWE ring boy in the early 90s who claimed that he was sexually abused by WWE officials, committed suicide yesterday according to his brother Lee.
In a post on social media, Lee wrote, “My brother Tom committed suicide a couple of hours ago. Vince McMahon 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.”
The various incidents date back to 1992 when Cole accused WWE ring announcer Mel Phillips and another official, Terry Joyal, of molesting younger ring boys. At the time, Cole said that Joyal made sexual advances on him when he was just 16 years old, and also three years later. He also revealed that Phillips had a foot fetish with him and after turning down their advances, he was fired from his job.
WWE always denied being in on the details even though the company did fire Mel Phillips. WWE later sued The New York Post and columnist Phil Mushnick for a story they wrote about the scandal. A few years ago when Business Insider tackled the story, a former high-level WWE employee said that both Vince and Linda McMahon “clearly knew what was going on, but really did nothing to stop it.” Mushnick also wrote that McMahon confessed that he suspected Phillips had an “unnatural” interest in young boys.
Cole was hired back by WWE and as part of an agreement, they paid for his education with the clause that if he drops out or failed to show up at any class, he’d be fired. Cole, who was fired by Linda McMahon for failing in college, later said that the only reason that WWE brought him back at the time was to extract information from him regarding an investigation that the U.S. government opened on WWE.
Joyal, who was brought in the company by Pat Patterson, resigned from his Vice President of Talent position and Patterson resigned with him after he was also mentioned in sexual misconduct allegations. During a Larry King Live interview which featured Vince McMahon discussing the allegations, Barry Orton, the brother of Cowboy Bob Orton and uncle to Randy Orton, called in and accused Joyal of sexually assaulting him in 1978 when he was 19 years old. Joyal died of cancer in 1998.