Steve Wynn Says He Couldn’t Have Leered at Dancers Because He’s Legally Blind

Posted on: April 6, 2018, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: April 6, 2018, 02:27h.

When powerful men have been accused of sexual misconduct, they’ve issued a variety of defenses, denials, and apologies in response.

Steve Wynn blind defamation
Steve Wynn says he can’t possibly have leered at a Showstoppers dancer because he was legally blind at the time of the allegations. (Image: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

But few have been as memorable as the defense presented by former Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn, who says he could not have leered at a Showstoppers dancer because he literally couldn’t see her.

Wynn is suing attorney Lisa Bloom for defamation in response to allegations by Bloom that he sexually harassed one of her clients. Wynn says that the allegations are a lie, as he is legally blind and therefore could not have been ogling the dancers who perform in the show, which was held at the Wynn Las Vegas from 2014 to 2016.

According to those allegations, women in the show were asked to take steps to please Wynn when he was in town for their performances.

“During rehearsals, dancers would normally wear jazz pants, tank tops, or other casual fitness wear,” The Bloom Firm stated in a press release. “Yet when Mr. Wynn stopped in to the rehearsals, which he did often when he was in town, the female dancers were instructed immediately to strip down to bras and panties, put on heels, and apply extra makeup so as to be sexually appealing to Mr. Wynn.”

The statement also said that Wynn would sit in the front row during the Showstoppers performances, and would “leer” at the dancers during “physically revealing segments of the show.”

See No Evil?

Wynn’s excuse isn’t as ridiculous as it might seem at first glance. It is publicly known that Wynn suffers from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disorder that has caused the cells in his retina to break down. Wynn has been suffering from the effects of the disorder for decades, which he says takes him off the hook for these allegations.

“I strongly suspect that at the time you wrote your fictional press release, you intentionally ignored the undisputed fact that Mr. Wynn was legally blind at all times you allege that he ‘leered’ at [the dancer] on the stage from late 2014 through late October,” read a letter from Wynn’s attorney to Bloom that was included in court documents filed on Thursday at a federal court in Nevada.

That may seem like an open-and-shut defense. But, once again, things aren’t quite as simple as they seem.

Not All Blindness is Created Equal

While RP does cause irreparable vision problems, the disease doesn’t usually result in total blindness. Those who have the disorder will develop night blindness first, then can later have problems with all aspects of their vision. In later stages, they could have trouble recognizing faces or even walking without assistance.

Then there is the question of what it means to be legally blind. Typically, that designation is given to anyone with visual acuity of less than 20/200 even with corrective lenses. That means that a legally blind individual would have to stand 20 feet away with their glasses or other assistance to see an object as well as a person with average sight could see it from 200 feet away. While some people are completely blind, most legally blind individuals have at least some level of vision.

Given the uncertainty of the facts, it’s hard to envision what will come of Wynn’s defamation suit. But Bloom has made it clear that she’s not intimidated by the legal action.

“In my opinion, Mr. Wynn sued me in an attempt to intimidate other women,” Bloom said in a statement released Thursday. “This time, he chose the wrong woman.”