WSJ: Vince McMahon reaches multi-million-dollar settlement with Rita Chatterton

WARNING: The following story contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Vince McMahon has settled a case with former WWF referee Rita Chatterton concerning a 1986 rape allegation.

The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann reported that a settlement was reached in December – one month after a demand letter was issued on behalf of Chatterton seeking $11.75 million in damages.

The WSJ reports that a lesser figure was reached, although the exact number is unknown.

McMahon denies the rape occurred in July 1986 with his lawyer Jerry McDevitt telling the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. McMahon denies and always has denied raping Ms. Chatterton. And he settled the case solely to avoid the cost of litigation.

Chatterton and her lawyer John Clune did not respond to requests for comment from the publication.

In the November 2022 demand letter, Clune stated that his client passed a polygraph test with multiple sources corroborating the accounts of July 1986. Two of those sources confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Chatterton contemporaneously informed them of the alleged rape.

Chatterton first spoke publicly about the alleged incident in 1992, citing concerns for her parent’s health to make the allegations public while they were still alive. Chatterton alleged that she met McMahon at a diner in the summer of 1986 following an event in Poughkeepsie, New York. The two left the diner to go talk privately with McMahon eventually, bringing her into his limo. Chatterton alleged that McMahon unzipped his pants and told Chatterton she would need to satisfy him for her $500,000 contract and forced Chatterton to touch him. She went on to state that McMahon allegedly forced her to perform oral sex, ripping her clothes and later, threatening to blackball her.

In a New York Magazine article last summer, Chatterton would not got into the specific details of what she had alleged in her 1992 appearance on The Geraldo Rivera Show and Now It Can Be Told but the 2022 article included comments from former wrestler Mario Mancini (Leonard Inzintari), who stated Chatterton spoke with him about the alleged incident after it happened.

From the New York Magazine article:

Inzitari doesn’t use the word rape while talking about what happened. But he describes something that sounds like the conventional definition of that term.

“Was she taken advantage of? Absolutely,” Inzitari says. “Was she scared to death? Absolutely. Did she wanna do that? Probably not.”

Inzitari said nothing to anyone about what Chatterton told him. “You just keep your mouth shut, because it’s Vince McMahon,” Inzitari says. “What are you gonna do, stooge on Vince McMahon? You’re gonna be blackballed from the wrestling business!”

In 1993, Vince & McMahon filed a suit against Chatterton, Geraldo Rivera, two producers, two production partners, and former wrestler “Dr. D” David Shults for civil conspiracy for fabricating a false accusation of rape against McMahon and airing it. The suit also claimed that representatives for Chatterton were willing to stay quiet if they were paid $5 million. The suit was dropped by the McMahons in 1994.

Jerry McDevitt issued the following statement to Talking Points Memo in 2010 regarding the lawsuit being dropped:

We had to marshal our resources to defend the company’s reputation in the criminal case … we had no choice but to abandon the case in order to defend ourselves.

A recent New York law provided a one-year window for victims of sexual crimes to file lawsuits without restrictions due to the statute of limitations.

About John Pollock 4560 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.