In 1992, Rita Chatterton publicly accused WWE owner Vince McMahon of rape.
Chatterton, the first female referee to work for the then-WWF, told her story on two Geraldo Rivera-hosted television shows. She said the assault took place in McMahon’s limousine in 1986, where he’d asked her to join him so they could privately discuss her future with the company.
After consulting a lawyer, Chatterton decided not to pursue legal action against McMahon at the time. She did confide in two wrestlers — the late Andre the Giant, and enhancement talent Leonard “Mario Mancini” Inzitari. Now, in the wake of the WWE Board’s investigation of McMahon for alleged hush money payments to female employees he’s had personal relationships with, Chatterton’s story is the subject of a new piece for New York Magazine. And for the first time, Inzitari is publicly corroborating her story.
Inzitari tells NYMag’s Abraham Riesman (the author of an upcoming unauthorized McMahon biography, Ringmaster: Vince McMahon & The Unmaking of America), “I remember it like it was yesterday. She was a wreck. She was shaking. She was crying.” He told Chatterton, “You just keep your mouth shut, because it’s Vince McMahon.”
She did, until her parents died and she could “tell the world what a scumbag McMahon was” without putting them through a public ordeal. After sharing the details of her rape on the newsmagazine Now It Can Be Told and the daytime talk show The Geraldo Rivera Show, Chatterton ran into Vince at a 1993 memorial service for Andre. McMahon and his wife Linda then brought a lawsuit against Chatterton and others claiming she falsely accused him as part of a broader conspiracy against the WWE owner. The suit didn’t go far, with McMahon and his legal team turning their attention to other issues like his federal steroid trial. But without support, Chatterton didn’t pursue the matter, focusing on her career as a youth counselor.
The story lingered, but never gained traction in the mainstream. When Linda McMahon ran for Senator in 2010, political website Talking Points Memo brought up Chatterton’s allegation. A comment the site received from McMahons’ lawyer Jerry McDevitt vowing to “pursue all available remedies against those associated with this smear job,” seemingly convinced them not to pursue the story.
Now, with the hush money story being broken by the Wall Street Journal and covered by almost every major media outlet in the world, Chatterton decided to talk to Reisman. As for Inzitari’s decision to validate his friend’s account after all these years?
“[Vince McMahon]’s dug himself such a deep hole that I’m just tired of it. I can’t do it anymore... I’ll tell you why I’m hopping on the bandwagon now. There’s worse stuff than that.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, confidential support is available by calling 800.656.HOPE, and links to other resources can be found here.