Execs concealed sexual misconduct accusations against Steve Wynn
Former executives at Wynn Resorts covered up years of sexual misconduct allegations against billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, according to a report by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The report, released this week as part of ongoing hearings before state gaming regulators, said the company fostered a culture of secrecy in which victims of sexual misconduct and harassment became afraid to pursue complaints or believed doing so to be pointless. The gaming commission must decide whether the company is still suitable for a state casino license.
Wynn, 77, who has denied the accusations of misconduct or engaging in any relationship that was not consensual, stepped down in February 2018 as the CEO of Wynn Resorts after an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal detailed numerous allegations against him, citing dozens of sources. The investigation by the Massachusetts commission’s enforcement bureau started after the newspaper report.
The state gaming commission report said substantive reforms at the company — including Wynn’s departure and that of other ranking officials accused of failing to report the alleged misconduct — “do not erase the fact that the corporate failures … are significant, repetitive, and reflective of the Company’s historical government practices.”
Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts, in a statement Tuesday acknowledged that “there were many victims — and those victims felt powerless.”
“For that I am deeply remorseful,” said Maddox, who took over in February 2018. “They felt that they didn’t have a voice. That if they were to speak up they could be retaliated against. Or if they did, it would not be investigated. For that I am truly sorry.”
On Wednesday, the company included at the hearing the testimony of Jennifer Marietta-Westberg, of Cornerstone Research, who said that of 19 companies that have dealt with issues of sexual and racial misconduct by top leaders since 2014, Wynn Resorts made “the strongest and swiftest response” in separating itself from the CEO and transforming its board of directors.
The 209-page Massachusetts Gaming Commission report said that over the years “a limited group of executives and employees in position of authority” at Wynn Resorts knew of allegations of sexual misconduct by employees against Wynn but “disregarded Company policies when it came to handling those allegations.”
“The investigation also shows that in some instances particular Company executives, with the assistance of outside counsel, were part of affirmative efforts to conceal allegations against Mr. Wynn that came to their attention,” the report said.
The report said investigators interviewed multiple people who accused Wynn of misconduct. They said the casino tycoon allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances or exposed himself, intentionally caused spa employees to have to graze his genitals and pressured employees into sexual conduct.
Among the allegations included in the report was a claim by a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas who told a supervisor she was raped by Wynn and was pregnant with his child. The report said the allegation resulted in a $7.5 million settlement in 2005 and that no internal investigation was conducted.
The woman said she was assaulted in the massage room attached to Wynn’s office, according to the report. In a 2017 deposition, Wynn said he had a relationship with the woman, which he said started after she rubbed his leg and put her hands up his shorts.
Another alleged incident involved a former cocktail server at Wynn Las Vegas, who said she had been “wrongfully engaged in a sexual relationship” with Wynn, the report said. She settled for $975,000 in 2006. The report said some ranking company executives knew about the allegation but no reports were made to the board of directors.
Wynn Resorts was fined $20 million in February for its repeated failure to respond properly to sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn.
The Nevada Gaming Commission said the fine, the largest it has ever levied, was part of a settlement with Wynn Resorts in response to a complaint the commission filed against the company in January.
Wynn Resorts has emphasized the series of changes it has undertaken since Wynn stepped down, such as overhauling the membership of its board to include three new female directors and introducing improved training for all employees aimed at preventing sexual harassment.
Wynn resigned as finance chairman for the Republican National Committee shortly after the Journal story came out in 2018. And the Wynn Resorts board formed a special committee to investigate the allegations.
The mogul is credited with being the person who transformed Las Vegas casinos from gambling dens into entertainment hubs where guests could watch spectacular shows and eat in high-end restaurants.
Wynn first entered the world of gambling when he took over his father’s bingo parlors in Maryland. He moved to Las Vegas in 1967 with a stake in the Frontier Hotel, followed by a short stint as the owner of a wine and liquor distributor, Wynn said in a 2014 interview with the Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson.
Wynn scored a lucrative land deal via business mogul Howard Hughes, and parlayed that money into an investment in the Golden Nugget Casino.