Former WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon is reportedly facing new legal demands from two women who allege that he sexually assaulted them, while also planning a comeback to the company he turned into a global sports entertainment juggernaut.
A new report from Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann of The Wall Street Journal notes that 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 million in damages. This comes after Chatterton publicly accused McMahon three decades ago of raping her in a limousine. McMahon has long denied the allegations.
McMahon’s lawyer also received a separate email in November, from a lawyer for a former spa manager in California. The former spa manager alleges that McMahon assaulted her in 2011 at a California resort, an incident previously unreported in the media.
It was noted that these private communications between lawyers for the women and McMahon come as WWE tries to move past McMahon’s 40 year tenure s the company’s leader, and move into a new era.
McMahon retired in late July amid a WWE Board of Directors investigation of sexual misconduct claims against he and former Talent Relations Head John Laurinaitis, who was let go from the company. It was revealed then how McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million in secret settlements since 2006 to keep the allegations quiet. The investigation found that the payments to the women, while made by McMahon personally, should have been booked as WWE expenses because they benefited the company.
A related Board probe seeks to assess damage caused by McMahon’s hush money pacts, and to determine whether legal action against McMahon by the WWE Board is warranted, according to people familiar with the matter.
McMahon has reportedly told people he plans to make a comeback at WWE, according to people close to the situation. He has said that he received bad advice from people close to him to step down, and that he now believes the allegations and investigations would have blown over had he stayed, according to these people.
The former spa manager alleges she was assaulted by McMahon in 2011 at a five-star resort in Southern California while he was in town for a WWE event. The women reported the alleged assault at the time to the resort, according to people close to the matter. The spa manager also told her husband about the incident, some of these people said. He drove to the WWE event with a baseball bat and tried to confront McMahon, but was reportedly turned away.
The woman’s lawyer, Michael Bressler, has been in touch with McMahon’s attorney since at least July, according to people familiar with the discussions.
McMahon has also told people he refuses to pay settlements to Chatterton, and the former spa manager. WWE’s auditor, Deloitte & Touche LLP, has advised the company that resolutions of the claims, even if confidential, would possibly have to be disclosed by WWE publicly.
Chatterton’s lawyer, John Clune, wrote in the November 3 legal demand letter that the damages to Chatterton from the alleged assault were “hard to overstate.” The letter said she “has suffered years of ongoing depression, substance abuse, disordered eating, lost income, and overall a decreased quality of life.” Chatterton referred The Wall Street Journal to Clune, who declined to comment.
Chatterton’s current lawyer said in the demand letter that Chatterton had passed a polygraph and that multiple sources corroborated her account, two of whom confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that Chatterton contemporaneously told them about the alleged rape.
WWE Hall of Famer Greg “The Hammer” Valentine told The Wall Street Journal that Chatterton disclosed the allegations to him while the two were sharing a marijuana joint in a Marriott hotel parking lot in Albany, NY, in the 1980s. Valentine said he didn’t believe Chatterton then or now, because he didn’t think she was attractive enough for McMahon.
Leonard Inzitari, who went to wrestling school with Chatterton, said in a magazine interview published earlier this year that 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. Inzitari told The Wall Street Journal that he stands by his comments and believes Chatterton’s allegations.
McMahon alleged in a 1993 lawsuit that Chatterton was induced to make a false rape charge against him by a former wrestler with an ax to grind. The lawsuit said her attorney at the time demanded $5 million from McMahon to keep the allegations off the air. WWE dismissed her because she was a danger to herself and others in the ring, according to the lawsuit, which McMahon withdrew in 1994.
Spokesmen for WWE and the independent Board members declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal, as did McMahon. McDevitt did not respond to requests for comment. WWE has declined to discuss the allegations against McMahon, but they previously stated that they were cooperating with the Board inquiry and taking the claims seriously.
McMahon remains WWE’s largest shareholder.
As we’ve noted, it was initially revealed on Wednesday, June 15 that WWE’s Board of Directors had been investigating then-Chairman & CEO Vince over the “secret $3 million settlement” he made to a former paralegal that was hired in 2019. Then-Talent Relations head Laurinaitis was also being investigated for his involvement, and it was revealed that the Board had been looking into other instances with former female employees as well. It was then announced on Friday, June 17 that Stephanie McMahon returned from her leave of absence to act as the Interim CEO & Interim Chairwoman after Vince voluntarily stepped away from his Chairman & CEO corporate duties, while still continuing his creative responsibilities, at least at that time. It was then revealed on Monday, June 20 that Bruce Prichard, WWE’s Senior Vice President and RAW/SmackDown Executive Producer, was working as the Interim Senior Vice President of Talent Relations, filling in for Laurinaitis during the investigation. It was then revealed on Friday, July 8, that McMahon agreed to pay more than $12 million in “hush money” to four women, including a former wrestler, as another round of allegations were made public. Prichard is no longer working the interim role as WWE announced on July 22 that Triple H is the new WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations. Vince’s retirement was announced hours after Triple H’s new role was announced, and Vince was the first to confirm that Stephanie is the new Chairwoman & Co-CEO, along with Co-CEO Nick Khan. Laurinaitis was also confirmed to be gone from the company. WWE announced on July 25 that Triple H is also the new head of creative, and his title was upgraded to WWE Chief Content Officer. There have also been additional promotions and corporate changes since then. WWE also announced on July 25 that previous financial statements were being revised due to “certain unrecorded expenses” by Vince, in the amount of $14.6 million, which are the payouts to various women. WWE noted then that Vince was personally re-paying the amount. It was also revealed on July 25 that the federal government is investigating the McMahon payouts. It was then revealed on August 9 that another $5 million in payments was made by McMahon, and he will be paying that money back to the company like the previous payments. You can find full details at the links below, including statements from Vince and Stephanie, full details on the anonymous e-mails that led to the investigations, the “hush money” pacts, and more, along with recent WWE comments on how the scandal hurt the company, and comments on the end of the Special Committee investigation.
Stay tuned to WrestlingHeadlines.com for more. Below are links to some of our recent reports on the McMahon – Laurinaitis situation:
FULL COVERAGE OF THE VINCE MCMAHON – JOHN LAURINAITIS ALLEGATIONS AND FALLOUT: