Casino developer Steve Wynn has joined a club he never wanted to belong to, as he now stands accused of sexual misconduct and assault by numerous former female employees. The allegations appeared in a new scathing report published on Friday in The Wall Street Journal.
The media outlet alleges that Wynn routinely pressured massage therapists on his gaming property into performing sexual acts in exchange for a $1,000 tip. The WSJ, which claims to have spoken with more than 150 people regarding the accusations, said the Wynn Resorts spa regularly booked fictitious appointments to cover up the billionaire’s escapades.
The most damning charge is made by a manicurist who stated Wynn forced her to have sex with him in 2005. The unidentified woman said she told him she was married and did not want to have intercourse, but did so at his insistence.
According to unsubstantiated reports, Wynn later settled a lawsuit with that woman for $7.5 million. Commenting this week to the WSJ, the billionaire businessman refuted the claims entirely.
“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous. We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”
Wynn is the latest in a long line of high-visibility power brokers to be accused of sexual misconduct in recent months, which began with the ousting of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
He is the founder, chairman, and largest individual shareholder of Wynn Resorts. The company’s valuation plummeted on the sexual harassment allegation reports, with shares dropping 10 percent in afternoon trading on Friday.
War of the Roses Continues
Steve Wynn remains engulfed in a bitter war with his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, one that dates back to 2010. Credited with co-founding Wynn Resorts and his previous casino company, Mirage Resorts (now part of MGM), the ex-Mrs. Wynn is trying to regain upwards of nine percent of the company that she lost during the contentious divorce settlement.
Now, his company claims, she’s on a smear campaign to damage her former spouse’s reputation.
“It is clear that Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife has sought to use a negative public relations campaign,” Wynn Resorts said in an issued statement.
“It is noteworthy that although Ms. Wynn says she knew about the 2005 allegations involving Mr. Wynn, she never made them known to the board of directors … and she did not raise them until after Mr. Wynn remarried and the shareholders of Wynn Resorts voted not to elect her to the board.”
The company officially ousted Elaine Wynn from the board in 2015, after she received just 17.1 percent support from its shareholders.
Finding the Sin in Sin City
After months of Hollywood’s royalty and Washington’s political stars taking the heat, it’s apparently now Las Vegas’ turn.
On Thursday, an entertainment news site broke the story that MGM Grand illusionist David Copperfield is being incriminated by a woman, now 47, on claims that he drugged her and performed sexual acts on her 30 years ago. The woman, actress Brittney Lewis, was a minor at the time of the alleged attack.
Copperfield has strongly denied any wrongdoing in the matter.
In December, Las Vegas restaurateur Mario Batali was forced to step down from daily management of his 24-plus eateries after he confessed that sexual misconduct allegations made by former female employees held merit. Batali ran three restaurants in Las Vegas. The New York Daily News reported on Wednesay that what was once considered a choice position in the restaurant business is now looked at, apparently, askance.
One unnamed worker at his Greenwich Village eatery Lupa told the News that the business was struggling to keep even management positions filled. She also said that even during what should have been a very busy time during New York’s Restaurant Week, they were having trouble filling tables, possibly indicating that customers, as well as potential employees, were turned off by the aftermath of the scandal.