In the wake of Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, and countless others, a prominent Republican donor and Las Vegas casino mogul is the latest man outed by his victims and is now facing charges of sexual assault and misconduct.
Steve Wynn, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Wynn Resorts and Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee, is accused by dozens of women who worked for his companies of a pattern of pervasive sexual misconduct that spans decades according to an explosive report today in The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal begins it expose by telling the story of a manicurist who was summoned to give Wynn a manicure in his office at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Upon returning to the hotel salon, she was obviously extremely upset and recounted a horrifying story of being pressured to have sex with the CEO on a massage table right in his office, despite her refusals and her telling her boss that she was married.
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The woman bravely reported the incident to the company’s human resources department and was later paid a $7.5 million settlement from Wynn in a payout that was referenced in a lawsuit against Wynn by his ex-wife. Mr. Wynn’s attorney’s acknowledged the allegations of assault in their response to that case, however, when asked about the incident Wynn replied:
“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.”
Mr. Wynn said that “the instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn, with whom I am involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seeking a revised divorce settlement.”
Notwithstanding the casino owner’s statement, The Wall Street Journal interviewed dozens of people who have worked at Wynn’s gambling empire and found that others also told stories of Wynn pressuring women who worked for him to “perform sex acts.”
The accusations against the 76-year-old casino executive are the first in the recent wave of misconduct allegations against a founder and CEO of a major publicly traded company in such a tightly regulated industry as the gambling field.
With Steve Wynn owning a $2.4 billion 12% stake in the company that bears his name, he is considered by company shareholders to be crucial to success of his ventures.
Yet his alleged predatory behavior may soon put him in a position where he will find it difficult to continue in his current role, if, that is, he is held to the same standards as other public figures other than our President.
The power dynamic between a wealthy CEO whom one’s job depends on and a service worker essentially makes any sexual encounter between them fraught with the possibility of intimidation and retaliation.
Many of the over 150 people contacted by The Journal expressed concern about the effects that speaking about Wynn would have on their job prospects, not just at Wynn’s properties but anywhere in the tight-knit casino industry where the mogul wields such outsized influence.
The Wall Street Journal report tells of the great lengths employees would go to in order to avoid being placed in a situation were they would have to be alone with Wynn out of fear of harassment.
“Everybody was petrified,” said Jorgen Nielsen, a former artistic director at the salon at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Mr. Nielsen said he and others repeatedly told high-level company executives Mr. Wynn’s sexual advances were causing a problem, but “nobody was there to help us.”
The Journal article goes on to report about Wynn’s sexual misconduct against massage therapists employed by his hotel in explicit detail.
Given that Republicans have been calling on the Democrats to return the money donated to the party by Harvey Weinstein, the new and very credible accusations against the Finance Chairman of their party beg the question of whether they will be returning all of the money donated to the Trump campaign by Wynn.
With Wynn having donated nearly three quarters of a million dollars towards Trump’s inauguration, and hundreds of thousands more to other Republican political activities throughout the years, that will be a large sum they’ll have to return to maintain the same standards of behavior for donors that they expect of the Democrats.