A Deeper Look Into NCIS Investigation of Late WWE Star Ashley Massaro's Sexual Assault Allegations

The tragic story of Ashley Massaro has come back into the spotlight amid multiple allegations against Vince McMahon, John Laurinaitis, and WWE.
Ashley Massaro Signs the April 2007 Issue of "Playboy" at Virgin Megastore in Times Square - March
Ashley Massaro Signs the April 2007 Issue of "Playboy" at Virgin Megastore in Times Square - March / Jemal Countess/GettyImages

Trigger Warning: This article contains constant references to sexual assault that some will find disturbing.

Author's note: Pursuant to a Vice report which stated that NCIS had opened an investigation into Ashley Massaro's sexual assault allegations, Wrestling Inc. and Daily DDT's Max Everett obtained a partially redacted version of the final investigation report. An overview of the investigation can be found here. This article is intended to provide further details included in the report with context.

The tale of late WWE star, Ashley Massaro, falling victim to an alleged sexual assault at the hands of the US Armed Forces while on tour with her employers is a harrowing reminder of the dangers women have had to navigate historically within each system. Before her 2019 suicide, Massaro detailed how she was drugged and raped in Kuwait while she was supposed to be receiving medical attention, and though WWE sought to distance itself from the situation, it has since been made clear that the company not only knew of the allegations but appears to have taken steps to dissuade her pursuit of justice.

Nevertheless, investigations were launched by the US Army Criminal Investigation Division and Air Force Special Office of Investigations (AFOSI); the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) later assumed investigative authority. Albeit in the summer of 2019, 13 years after the crime was alleged to have taken place. One of the three key witnesses in Massaro, and perhaps the only one with a vested interest in keeping the investigation alive, was unable to do so due to her tragic passing. Needless to say, the case was closed by NCIS when they exhausted all logical investigative leads. However, there is much that can be pulled from their investigation report.

For context, an overview of Massaro's allegations:

In the signed affidavit from 2017 released by her lawyer post-mortem, Ashley Massaro describes complaining of menstrual cramps and being brought to a military medical facility by insistent US Army chaperones so that she could be treated for dehydration. After waiting for hours to see a doctor while receiving IV fluids, a man in street clothes purporting to be a military doctor injected a nondescript paralytic agent into her IV and sexually assaulted her while a woman in fatigues stood guard.

The NCIS investigation report includes an interview with the unknown male named in Massaro's medical record as the physician assistant who treated her. His name is redacted on the report under FOIA exemptions.

"[Redacted] stated he recalled Massaro complained of abdominal and pelvic pain. [Redacted] recalled that Massaro was accompanied by a male civilian that he did not recognize, but he recalled someone in the clinic saying it was [redacted]. [Redacted] stated [redacted] seemed to be acting skittish and strange."

"[Redacted] described [redacted] as a [redacted] male, in his thirties, [redacted] hair, perhaps had a mustache, and was well built."

As was also noted by David Bixenspan in his coverage of the investigation on Babyface vs. Heel, this does not match the description of any of whom were a part of WWE's entourage in Kuwait at the time. That included Maria Kanellis, Ron Simmons, Jimmy Hart, PR Chief Gary Davis, and photographer Henry DiRocco, all of which would have been - as Bix says - noticeably older than in their thirties at the time. Kanellis obviously does not qualify at all. There is also a direct contradiction to Massaro's account in her 2017 affidavit, which describes that she was brought to the medical facility by US Army chaperones. Whereas this interview describes a single male civilian.

The interview continues, "[Redacted] stated that when he first saw Massaro he believed she was drowsy but she was not falling asleep during conversation or slurring her words, [redacted] recalled someone else working in the facility may have said that 'she was high' but [redacted] was uncertain. [Redacted] stated he had little experience with people drugs or alcohol so he was not sure. [Redacted] stated Massaro was talking, moving and seemed lucid at this time and was dressed in her street clothes."

"[Redacted] stated after he finished speaking to her, he exited the room and returned some time later with a female Corpsman and he conducted an exam to include a pelvic exam, which Massaro agreed to. [Redacted] could not recall when Massaro disrobed and put on a hospital gown."

Bixenspan's reporting detailed the shift in consensus over the practice of medical professionals conducting pelvic exams on unconscious patients. Compile the problematic practice with the conjecture remarked on by Massaro's PA - that she was high - then it becomes clear that whichever way the story is cut, Massaro was subject to a traumatic situation. Pelvic exams on unconscious patients are a practice now banned in various states across the US, but this was not the case at the time. One has to question, no matter the supposed limited experience with those under the influence, the sequence of events that describes the PA surmising that she was under some form of cognitive impairment - fatigue or inebriation - and feeling that she was in a position to consent. Once again, which ever way the story is told, there is a question of ethics in the matter.

The interview continues, "[Redacted stated that during the exam with the female Corpsman in the room, [redacted] banged on the door and was calling Massaro's name and asking if everything was okay. [Redacted] stated he had to stop the exam briefly so that Massaro could respond. [Redacted] stated that Massaro responded and said that everything was fine and she was having an exam done. [Redacted] stated that Massaro seemed nonchalant when she said everything was fine and the manager stopped banging on the door and did not knock again."

The narrative put forward here follows some of the beats in Massaro's version of events in her affidavit, "Gary [Davis] returned and was banging on the door. The man and woman yelled 'one minute' and threw a dirty quilt on me as I was lying naked on the table, and when Gary entered the room he attempted to ask them what was going on but they immediately stormed out. At the time, my body was still limp and my speech impaired, so Gary wrapped me in the quilt and carried me out to the Humvee outside and took me back to my hotel room and then put me in my bed, as I needed to sleep. Gary said to call when I woke up and that he, or one of the others we were travelling with, would come back to get me."

This raises one severe question: Why wasn't Gary Davis questioned as part of this investigation?

The entire NCIS report reflects that among the armed services employees interviewed, there was also communication with those representing WWE, but there was no one described in the report to indicate Davis was a part of the inquiry. Both versions of events describe Davis being on the periphery of the situation, and outright involved when he banged on the door to surmise whether Massaro was okay. Massaro's version of events further describes that Davis had questioned the alleged perpetrators - to their refusal - and wrapped her as she was naked.

The interview summary closes with the following:

"[Redacted] stated he did not see Massaro leave the facility, but Massaro could have been resting in one of the urgent care bays and he did not witness it. [Redacted] stated he did not see Massaro crying or upset during the exam, incapacitated, or anything that would have made him think that she had been sexually assaulted. [Redacted] stated he did not observe any disturbances at the facility other than the manager banging on the door. [Redacted] stated he would be willing to speak with NCIS again if there were any other questions. [Redacted] had no other information to report."

The investigation report does also include a refusal to co-operate with the NCIS, through various misdirections and rejections. The officer in charge of the clinic during the period of the alleged assault declined to be interviewed - he was not a suspect - yet agreed to "facilitate presenting a list of written questions in an effort to elicit pertinent information relevant to the investigation." They did not follow through, however, further refusing to provide any information about the case.

Many of those who were questioned by NCIS described being stationed in Kuwait at the time of Massaro's alleged assault. Alas, nearly all were unable to recall either her presence or anything regarding the facility she was treated at. The NCIS report indicates that Massaro was treated at a medical facility deduced to be Camp Patriot, Aerial Port of Demarcation, Troop Medical Clinic. Camp Patriot is described as "a separate location approximately a one and half hour drive to the south on the east coast of Kuwait." The reporting agent was unable to find the location of the Camp Life Support Area which hosted the WWE entourage, and thus could not establish a crime scene. The case was closed on January 27th, 2020.

The NCIS investigation speaks more to the conduct of the US Armed Forces than it does to WWE's well-documented mishandling of the matter. When Ashley Massaro's affidavit was made public, WWE responded to say it was unaware of the sexual assault allegation but, "as best WWE can determine", Massaro became ill while there and was treated by a military doctor, and she was later heard telling others that she believed that the doctor had done an inappropriate pelvic exam. Reporting on the matter for Vice, Tim Marchman wrote not only of the NCIS investigation which spurred this line of inquiry, but also an admission from John Laurinaitis - then head of talent relations - that WWE management was acutely aware of her situation. Add Massaro's harrowing account to the recently filed lawsuit against WWE, Vince McMahon, and John Laurinaitis alleging systemic sexual assault, exploitation, and trafficking, amidst the array of historical allegations involving the company, and a stark picture is drawn of the otherwise family-friendly entertainment conglomerate. Time will tell how this matter evolves in litigation.

Max Everett has further reached out to AFOSI and US Army CID pertaining to their investigations. Updates will be posted via Wrestling Inc. and Daily DDT.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).