“Everybody was petrified,”: Vegas Tycoon Steve Wynn Accused by More Than 150 of Sexual Misconduct
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Steve Wynn, 75-year old Vegas tycoon, has been accused by over 150 people of being sexually inappropriate over the span of more than ten years.
Of the accusations, an account from 2005 sticks out as one of the worst of the bunch. While getting a manicure in his private suite, Wynn is said to have forced the manicurist into having sex.
He made her take her clothes off and lie on the massage table in the room, and she told Wynn that she was married and was not interested in having sex with him, but out of fear for her job or safety, did as he told her to do.
Wynn was forced to pay her some $7.5 million dollars after settling a lawsuit that began after the woman filed a report with the hotel supervisor. Though he paid the settlement, Wynn denies being sexually inappropriate with her or forcing her into sex.
But this incident is far from isolated, and former hotel staff have said that they would make up appointments to put into their books in order to avoid an appointment with Wynn. Some would hide in a bathroom or a back room when Wynn was in the salon, others would pose as assistants to manicurists and massage therapists so that no one would have to be alone with him.
A former massage therapist at Wynn Las Vegas has gone on record to say Wynn would book appointments with her in his office suite and expose his private parts to her by adjusting his towel during the massage.
In another appointment, he instructed her to massage his genitals to climax, and she felt as though she didn’t have a choice, because he was her boss. For several months, this sexually inappropriate request became a regular part of his appointments. After these sessions she would be paid her regular fare of $1,000 in cash.
He went further during some of his following sessions, asking the masseuse to perform oral sex on him, which she refused.
He would also regularly refuse to put a towel over his genitals during the massages, although it is against Nevada state licensing regulations, and he would rub her leg during his massage.
Another former employee, Jorgen Nielsen, who worked as an artistic director at one of the hotel’s salon, said that, “everybody was petrified,” and they did their best to report the lewd behavior to the company’s higher ups and executive personnel, but “nobody was there to help us.”
A Long History of Misconduct and Sexual Assault
Wynn, on the other hand, said to the Wall Street Journal in a written statement, “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.”
Some hotel salon and spa employees report that because of Wynn’s status and power in Las Vegas, they were intimidated and afraid that a wrong move or request that was refused by them would have further implications on their careers in the city. In addition to his position as hotel and casino mogul, Wynn has been appointed the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.
But, this behavior dates even further back, to the 1990’s when Wynn was running the Golden Nugget casino. An executive at the casino, Dennis Gomes, now deceased, stated at a deposition that he “routinely received complaints from various department heads regarding Wynn’s chronic sexual harassment of female employees.”
This lawsuit was dropped in 1994, but Wynn’s inappropriate behavior with female members of staff continued.
Shawn Cardinal, personal assistant to Elaine Wynn, who at the time was married to Steve Wynn, stated that in the late 1980’s, Steve would routinely ask her to spend time with him after work. Even after she told him that she had plans with her husband and child, he would go as far as to approach her desk after work to try to entice her.
He would make sexually harassing comments over the phone as well, she says, stating that he would ask her things like, “What are you wearing?” She says, “I was not brave enough to say, ‘How dare you?’ I just joked my way out of it and I made sure I was never alone with him.”
Other former employees of that time remember that he would walk around the office in short shorts without wearing underwear, and he would sit in the salon getting a pedicure in a position where his genitals were exposed.
These are only a snapshot of the sexually inappropriate remarks, gestures, and acts Steve Wynn’s former employees have observed and reported over the course of their time at the company. All of whom say their biggest fear was getting fired or black balled in the Vegas resort industry, due to Wynn’s connections and power.
Listen, Speak Up, and Believe the Victims
The conversation about sexual misconduct and sexual assault in the United States is only in its infancy, but big strides are being made every day. Regardless of a person’s position in a company, governmental structure, celebrity, etc. they are absolutely not immune to the consequences of this behavior.
As of now, the Wynn Resorts Ldt. Stock (WYNN) is down -10.26% (this is a 4 PM unofficial percentage, the actual percentage will not be finalized until the market closes for the day at 5 PM). And one can only hope that those who felt uncomfortable by Wynn’s presence, for whatever reason, will eventually feel as though justice has been served.
If you feel as though you are a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment by a boss, teacher, classmate, coach, or anyone else in your life, please utilize the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
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