30 years after WWE's first female referee accused Vince McMahon of raping her, an ex-wrestler has claimed it's true

·4 min read
Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon.Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Rita Chatterton, the WWE's first female referee, accused Vince McMahon in 1992 of raping her.

  • An ex-pro wrestler said in a New York magazine story that Chatterton's allegation was true.

  • McMahon recently stepped away from his CEO role amid an inquiry into separate misconduct claims.

A former wrestler said an allegation made by the WWE's first female referee — who accused Vince McMahon, the organization's former CEO, of raping her in 1986 — was true.

Leonard Inzitari, the ex-wrestler whose in-ring name was Mario Mancini, said the allegation made by Rita Chatterton was true. He made the claim to the journalist Abe Riesman in a story published by New York magazine Monday. Riesman is writing a book about McMahon called "Ringmaster," which is set to be released in March.

It's the first time a wrestler has backed up Chatterton's accusation.

Chatterton came forward publicly with the accusation in 1992, alleging that McMahon raped her in his limo in 1986. She declined to press charges, and the statute of limitations for rape had passed at the time, Riesman reported.

Inzitari said in the New York magazine story that Chatterton confided in him in 1986. Before a WWF show (WWE was known as the World Wrestling Federation at the time), Chatterton "burst out in tears" in front of Inzitari, he said.

He said Chatterton told him McMahon "took his penis out" and "forced my head down there." He added that she told him McMahon then "pulled me on top of him," forced off her jeans, and was then "inside her."

WWE did not respond to a request for comment from Insider on behalf of the company or McMahon.

McMahon's lawyer Jerry McDevitt did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider on McMahon's behalf. Inzitari declined to comment to Insider.

"He was willing to take the case, but he knew it would be an uphill battle," Chatterton told Riesman, referring to a lawyer she contacted. "It came down that it was my word against McMahon's, because I took a shower and didn't go to the hospital."

She added: "I was scared. He was powerful. It was gonna be him over me."

Chatterton had made her claim public on "The Geraldo Rivera Show." The WWF didn't comment at the time on the allegation, but McMahon called the accusation false in a lawsuit, Riesman reported.

McMahon and his wife, Linda, sued Chatterton, Rivera, and members of Rivera's production team after the interview aired, alleging that the defendants were part of a conspiracy to inflict "severe emotional distress" on the McMahons with "the fabrication of a false accusation of rape." The lawsuit was eventually dropped, Riesman reported.

McMahon recently voluntarily stepped away from his role as WWE's chief executive and chair amid a special committee of the company board's investigation into separate misconduct claims made against him and the company's head of talent relations.

"I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee, and I will do everything possible to support the investigation," McMahon said in a statement released by WWE. "I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are."

McMahon continues to oversee the company's creative content. His daughter and WWE's brand chief, Stephanie McMahon, stepped in as interim CEO and chair.

The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier this month that WWE's board was investigating payments McMahon made to former female employees, some of whom had accused McMahon and the head of talent relations of misconduct. The payments prohibited them from speaking out about the agreements, The Journal reported, citing people familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry started in April after the board received a tip about a $3 million payment to a former female paralegal that McMahon was accused of having an affair with, The Journal reported.

A WWE spokesperson told The Journal that McMahon's relationship with the former paralegal was consensual. McDevitt, his attorney, told The Journal the paralegal hadn't claimed any harassment against McMahon and that "WWE did not pay any monies" to her.

Read the original article on Business Insider