New York Magazine features a new article written by Abraham Riesman, the author of the upcoming “Ringmaster” unauthorized biography of Vince McMahon. The piece looks at Rita Chatterton, who was the first-ever female WWE referee, and includes a former WWE talent corroborating Chatterton’s sexual assault accusations against McMahon for the first time, which allegedly occurred in July 1986. This was Chatterton’s first interview since 1992.
Chatterton appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s daytime talk show back in 1992 and accused McMahon of raping her in the back of a limousine in 1986, but no charges could be brought against him because the statute of limitations had run out.
Former WWE talent Mario Mancini (Leonard Inzitari) also spoke to Riesman and became the first wrestler to speak on the record and corroborate Chatterton’s story. Mancini chose to spoke to Riesman now because of the current issues McMahon is dealing with, which has he and John Laurinaitis being investigated by the WWE Board of Directors over allegations of misconduct. You can find links to our various reports on McMahon and Laurinaitis below.
Chatterton and Mancini have known each other since the 1980s as they trained together at the same pro wrestling school. Mancini claimed Chatterton took him aside before a 1986 WWE live event and burst into tears as she described what allegedly happened in Vince’s limo that night, claiming that McMahon forced her to perform oral sex before pulling her on top of him for sex.
Reisman wrote, “She declines to describe to me the specifics of what happened next” and then detailed what she had said before in two separate appearances on Geraldo’s show. The limo driver was not present during the assault.
The article includes the following on Inzitari:
The news [current WWE Board investigation] so disgusted Leonard Inzitari, a former professional wrestler, that, in a conversation with me, he did something no wrestler ever has: corroborated the allegation that McMahon raped Chatterton. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” says Inzitari. “She was a wreck. She was shaking. She was crying.”
Inzitari’s in-ring alias was “Mario Mancini,” and he was what the wrestling industry calls a “jobber”: He’d be paid a few hundred bucks per show to “lose” to more famous wrestlers in their choreographed matches. Inzitari, like everyone else involved in the WWF, obeyed the whims of McMahon, who began to take control over his father’s company in 1982. In the three decades since Inzitari retired, he has always taken care to speak highly of McMahon in interviews.
But now, as Inzitari puts it, “He’s dug himself such a deep hole that I’m just tired of it. I can’t do it anymore.”
According to Inzitari, in that summer of 1986, he found Chatterton standing alone near the wrestling ring a few hours before a WWF show. “She looks at me and bursts out in tears,” Inzitari recalls. “And she grabbed me, and I go, ‘Rita, what happened?’”
Chatterton began to reply: “I was in Vince’s limo …”
Before she could continue, Inzitari let out an involuntary, “Oh, no.”
“Lenny, he took his penis out,” he said Chatterton told him between sobs. “He kinda forced my head down there, and I made it known I wasn’t interested in doing that.”
Inzitari was not surprised. He had “heard a lot of different stories” about McMahon’s sexual proclivities. “He was strange, brother.”
Inzitari asked Chatterton what happened next.
“Then, [Vince] pulled me on top of him,” she told her friend. According to her, she was wearing jeans that McMahon forcibly took off. Soon, as Inzitari puts it, “He was inside her.”
“You’re done,” Inzitari remembers telling Chatterton. “Your time’s numbered. You’re not gonna be here.”
Sure enough, he was right: The WWF stopped calling Chatterton for referee appearances, starting that summer.
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.”
Chatterton said she initially wanted to speak with McMahon about her future and possibly becoming a full-time employee. After Vince said he did not want to discuss the matter at a large dinner their group was at, Vince allegedly suggested they go to a diner and talk privately. Chatterton says she saw Vince outside while getting into her car, while he was getting into his limo, and he suggested the talk there because he was tired.
McMahon allegedly said Chatterton had to “satisfy him” if she wanted to get a $500,000 per year contract that he had mentioned before. He then allegedly forced her to perform oral sex and pulled her on top of him for sex, or be blackballed from the pro wrestling industry.
Chatterton said she didn’t tell her story initially because she was worried her elderly parents would suffer health issues due to the stress. Chatterton decided to go public with her story after her parents passed away.
WWE did not respond to the allegations at the time, but Vince and his wife, Linda McMahon, sued Chatterton, Geraldo, and several production people, and former WWE talent “Dr. D” David Schultz, claiming they were all part of a conspiracy against the McMahons, but the suit was eventually dropped. Chatterton reportedly had Schultz corroborate her story, and was seeking a $5 million settlement. McMahon’s countersuit against Chatterton, Geraldo and others was for the defaming TV piece on him.
The article included the following on Chatterton and Inzitari speaking out now that Vince is dealing with another scandal:
Memory of Chatterton’s claims has all but vanished from the mainstream media. When the political website Talking Points Memo brought up the allegation in the context of Linda’s 2010 run for Senate in Connecticut, the McMahons’ longtime lawyer, Jerry McDevitt, brought the hammer down.
“Make no mistake,” McDevitt told the TPM reporter when she asked for comment, “if those false allegations are repeated now and again, Mr. McMahon will pursue all available remedies against those associated with this smear job.” TPM ran the post, but didn’t pursue the story further.
Now, with McMahon facing renewed scrutiny for alleged sexual misconduct, Chatterton is cautiously hopeful that the man might face consequences.
“He’s not gonna pay for what he did to me,” she says. But she’s glad the hush-money allegations are coming to light. “Now this girl’s come forward,” Chatterton says of the paralegal whose friend sent the initial emails to the WWE board, “and I’m sure others will come forward. Because we’re not the only two. There’s not a doubt in my mind about that.”
Chatterton pauses and thinks for a second. She chuckles a little.
“As far as wrestling goes, I guess I’m the first in a lot of things,” she says. “As far as I know, I’m the first to come out with the whole issue of what a scumbag he is.”
Inzitari, too, sees storm clouds ahead for his onetime employer.
“I’ll tell you why I’m hopping on the bandwagon now,” the former grappler tells me. “There’s worse stuff than that.”
Vince and his longtime lawyer Jerry McDevitt declined to comment to Riesman for this story. You can click here for the full piece from NYmag.com.
As we’ve noted, it was revealed on Wednesday, June 15 that WWE’s Board of Directors has been investigating Vince over a “secret $3 million settlement” he made to a former WWE paralegal that was hired in 2019. Laurinaitis is also being investigated for his involvement, and the Board is looking into other instances with former female employees as well. It was then announced on Friday, June 17 that Stephanie 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. It was then revealed on Monday, June 20 that WWE’s Senior Vice President and RAW/SmackDown Executive Producer Bruce Prichard is also now working as the Interim Senior Vice President of Talent Relations, filling in for Laurinaitis during the investigation. 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 announcements, and more.
Stay tuned to WrestlingHeadlines.com for more. Below are links to our various reports on the McMahon – Laurinaitis situation:
FULL COVERAGE OF THE VINCE MCMAHON – JOHN LAURINAITIS ALLEGATIONS: