Former WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is reportedly facing new legal demands from two women who claim he sexually assaulted them, all while planning a return to the company he built into a global sports entertainment juggernaut.
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann, McMahon’s lawyer, longtime representative Jerry McDevitt, received a demand letter on November 3 from a lawyer for former WWE referee Rita Chatterton, asking for $11.75 in damages. This comes three decades after Chatterton publicly accused McMahon of raping her in a limousine. McMahon has consistently denied the allegations.
In November, McMahon’s lawyer received a separate email from a lawyer for a former spa manager in California. The former spa manager claims McMahon assaulted her in 2011 at a California resort, an incident that went unreported in the media at the time.
It was noted that these private communications between the women’s lawyers and McMahon occurred as WWE attempts to move beyond McMahon’s 40-year tenure as the company’s leader and into a new era.
McMahon stepped down in late July amid a WWE Board of Directors investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him and former Talent Relations Head John Laurinaitis, who was fired. McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million in secret settlements since 2006 to keep the allegations quiet, it was revealed at the time. The investigation determined that the payments made to the women, while made personally by McMahon, should have been recorded as WWE expenses because they benefited the company.
According to people familiar with the matter, a related Board investigation seeks to assess the damage caused by McMahon’s hush money pacts and to determine whether legal action by the WWE Board against McMahon is warranted.
According to sources close to the situation, McMahon has told people that he intends to make a comeback to WWE. He has stated that he was given bad advice to step down by people close to him, and that he now believes the allegations and investigations would have blown over if he had stayed.
McMahon allegedly assaulted the former spa manager in 2011 at a five-star resort in Southern California while he was in town for a WWE event, according to the former spa manager. According to people familiar with the situation, the women reported the alleged assault to the resort at the time. According to some of these witnesses, the spa manager also informed her husband about the incident. He allegedly drove to the WWE event with a baseball bat and attempted to confront McMahon, but was turned away.
According to people familiar with the discussions, the woman’s lawyer, Michael Bressler, has been in contact with McMahon’s attorney since at least July.
McMahon has also stated that he will not pay settlements to Chatterton or the former spa manager. WWE’s auditors, Deloitte & Touche LLP, have advised the company that resolutions to the claims, even if confidential, may have to be made public by WWE.
Chatterton’s lawyer, John Clune, stated in the November 3 legal demand letter that the alleged assault caused “hard to overstated” damages to Chatterton. She “has suffered years of ongoing depression, substance abuse, disordered eating, lost income, and overall decreased quality of life,” according to the letter. Clune, who declined to comment, was referred to Chatterton by The Wall Street Journal.
Chatterton’s current lawyer stated in the demand letter that she had passed a polygraph test and that multiple sources corroborated her account, two of whom confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that Chatterton told them about the alleged rape at the time.
WWE Hall of Famer Greg “The Hammer” Valentine told The Wall Street Journal that Chatterton told him about the allegations in the 1980s while the two were smoking marijuana in a Marriott hotel parking lot in Albany, New York. Valentine said he didn’t believe Chatterton at the time or now because she wasn’t attractive enough for McMahon.
In a magazine interview published earlier this year, Leonard Inzitari, who went to wrestling school with Chatterton, said Chatterton was shaking and crying as she recounted the alleged rape while the two of them stood outside the ring before a 1986 WWE event. According to Inzitari, he stands by his comments and believes Chatterton’s accusations.
In a 1993 lawsuit, McMahon claimed that a former wrestler with a vendetta induced Chatterton to file a false rape charge against him. According to the lawsuit, her attorney demanded $5 million from McMahon at the time to keep the allegations quiet. According to the lawsuit, which McMahon withdrew in 1994, WWE fired her because she was a danger to herself and others in the ring.
WWE and the independent Board members, as well as McMahon, declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal. McDevitt did not respond to comment requests. WWE has refused to comment on the allegations against McMahon, but they have previously stated that they are cooperating with the Investigation Board and taking the allegations seriously.
McMahon is still the company’s largest shareholder.
As previously stated, it was revealed on Wednesday, June 15 that WWE’s Board of Directors was looking into then-Chairman & CEO Vince over a “secret $3 million settlement” he made to a former paralegal hired in 2019. The involvement of then-Talent Relations head Laurinaitis was also being investigated, and it was revealed that the Board was looking into other cases involving former female employees as well. Stephanie McMahon then returned from her leave of absence to act as Interim CEO & Interim Chairwoman after Vince voluntarily stepped away from his Chairman & CEO corporate duties while still continuing his creative responsibilities, at least for the time being. On Monday, June 20, it was revealed that Bruce Prichard, WWE’s Senior Vice President and RAW/SmackDown Executive Producer, was filling in for Laurinaitis as Interim Senior Vice President of Talent Relations during the investigation. On Friday, July 8, it was revealed that McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million in “hush money” to four women, including a former wrestler, as new allegations surfaced. Prichard’s interim position is no longer in effect, as WWE announced on July 22 that Triple H is the new WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations. Vince’s retirement was announced just hours after Triple H’s new role was announced, and Vince was the first to confirm that Stephanie, along with Co-CEO Nick Khan, is the new Chairwoman & Co-CEO. Laurinaitis has also been confirmed to have left the company. WWE announced on July 25 that Triple H is the new creative director, and his title has been elevated to WWE Chief Content Officer. Since then, there have been additional promotions and corporate changes. On July 25, WWE also announced that previous financial statements would be revised due to “certain unrecorded expenses” by Vince totaling $14.6 million, which are payouts to various women. WWE stated at the time that Vince was personally repaying the debt. On July 25, it was also revealed that the federal government is looking into the McMahon payouts. On August 9, it was revealed that McMahon had received another $5 million in payments, which he would be returning to the company in the same manner as the previous payments.