Rita Chatterton, the WWE’s first female referee, accused Vince McMahon in 1992 of raping her.
Leonard Inzitari, a former pro wrestler, claimed in a New York Magazine story published Monday that Chatterton’s allegations are true.
McMahon recently stepped away from his CEO role amid an investigation into separate misconduct claims.
A former wrestler is claiming that allegations made by the WWE’s first female referee — who accused the organization’s former CEO Vince McMahon of raping her in 1986 — are true.
Leonard Inzitari, the ex-wrestler whose in-ring name was Mario Mancini, claimed that the allegations made by Rita Chatterton were true. He made the claim to journalist Abe Riesman in a story published by New York Magazine on Monday. Riesman is writing a book about McMahon, called “Ringmaster,” which will be released in March 2023.
It’s the first time a wrestler has backed up Chatterton’s accusation.
Chatterton first came forward publicly with the accusation in 1992, claiming that McMahon raped her in his limo in 1986. But Chatterton declined to press charges, and the statute of limitations for rape had passed at the time, according to Riesman’s story.
Inzitari claimed in the New York Magazine story that Chatterton confided in him in 1986 what had allegedly happened. 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 claimed.
Inzitari claimed that Chatterton told him McMahon “took his penis out” and “forced my head down there.” McMahon then “pulled me on top of him,” forced off her jeans, and was then “inside her,” Inzitari said that Chatterton told him.
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 further 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 after the alleged encounter with McMahon. “It came down that it was my word against McMahon’s, because I took a shower and didn’t go to the hospital … 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 after the interview, according to Riesman.
McMahon and his wife, Linda, sued Chatterton, Rivera, and members of Rivera’s production team after the interview, claiming that the defendants were part of a conspiracy to inflict “severe emotional distress” on the McMahons with “the fabrication of a false accusation of grated.” The lawsuit was eventually dropped, according to Riesman.
Meanwhile, McMahon recently voluntarily stepped away from his role as WWE’s chief executive and chairman 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 chairwoman.
The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier this month that WWE’s board was investigating payments McMahon made to form 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 is alleged to have had 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.
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