Vince McMahon stepped down as Chairman and CEO of WWE last summer amidst an investigation into a hush money scandal and allegations of sexual misconduct.
McMahon was still the controlling shareholder in the company after he resigned. Earlier this month, he used that leverage to name himself back to the Board of Directors and return to power as the Executive Chairman of WWE. He did this despite the obvious risks the company and shareholders incur given these allegations against him, which also come with increased scrutiny of WWE’s financial statements by the federal government.
One of these ongoing stories includes a rape accusation from Rita Chatterton, a former WWE referee. She alleges that McMahon raped her in the back of a limousine in 1986.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, McMahon has agreed to a multi-million dollar legal settlement with her:
Vince McMahon, the executive chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., has agreed to a multimillion-dollar legal settlement with a former wrestling referee who accused him of raping her in 1986, according to people familiar with the agreement.
McMahon denies the rape allegation; his lawyer claims the settlement was made to avoid further legal expenses:
Ms. Chatterton, the first female referee of what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation, demanded $11.75 million in damages for the alleged rape in a November letter to Mr. McMahon’s attorney reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Ms. Chatterton agreed to a lesser amount in the millions of dollars, one of the people familiar with the matter said, but the Journal couldn’t determine the exact figure.
“Mr. McMahon denies and always has denied raping Ms. Chatterton. And he settled the case solely to avoid the cost of litigation,” said Jerry McDevitt, a lawyer for Mr. McMahon.
A New York law recently opened a one-year window that allows victims of sex crimes to file lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations. Ms. Chatterton’s attorney sought $11.75 million damages in a legal demand letter sent to Mr. McMahon’s attorney in November, weeks before the window opened.
The settlement provides Ms. Chatterton with a lump sum up front and annual installments, similar to Mr. McMahon’s previous agreements with women, the person familiar with the deal said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Vince was also in negotiations with the attorney for a former spa manager in California who accuses McMahon of sexual misconduct in 2011. In today’s report, the WSJ notes that they “couldn’t determine the status of the negotiations with the ex-spa manager.” McMahon will likely need to reach a resolution to that lawsuit as well before he can finalize a deal to sell WWE.