Dozens of people have accused Wynn Resorts CEO of sexual misconduct: WSJ

Jan 26 (Reuters) - Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has routinely subjected women who work for him to unwanted sexual advances in a pattern of misconduct detailed by dozens of past and present employees, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, but the billionaire denied the accusations as "preposterous."

Wynn is the founder, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd , and the company's stock fell more than 10.1 percent in heavy trading to close at $180.29 on the Nasdaq exchange on Friday after the report.

The Wall Street Journal said former and current company staff members it interviewed accused Wynn of creating a hostile work environment for women and of regularly pressuring employees to perform sex acts.

Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn through the years
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Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn through the years
Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn (R) gestures at Macau's Tourism Activities Centre as he starts negotiating with government officials a final contract for his new gaming concession in the enclave, February 20, 2002. Macau dealed out earlier in the month three new gambling concessions, a move marking the end of a gaming monopoly set up by the former Portuguese colonial rulers in 1937. REUTERS/Bobby Yip BY/CP
Steve Wynn smiles as he waits to talk to people at the American Institute of Architects convention in Las Vegas. Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn smiles as he waits to talk at the Wynn Las Vegas to people in town for the American Institute of Architects convention in Las Vegas May 19, 2005. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Ethan Miller
Wynn Las Vegas Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn stands next to a puppet modeled after himself during a news conference for the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, August 16, 2005. Winner of three 2004 Tony awards, the show previews at the resort in the Wynn's 1,200-seat Broadway Theater on August 27. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus SM/PN
Casino Developer Steve Wynn takes a rest before receiving his honorary degree at the 250th commencement exercise of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 15, 2006. Wynn, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963, was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer
Donald Trump (L) and Steve Wynn talk before the start of Game 7 of the NLCS playoff baseball series in New York in this October 19, 2006 file photograph. Picture taken October 19, 2006. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/File (UNITED STATES)
Casino mogul Steve Wynn smiles during a news conference inside a restaurant of 'Wynn Macau' in Macau September 5, 2006. The 20-story hotel and casino, located on the waterfront in Macau, is modelled after Wynn's curved-tower in Las Vegas. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (HONG KONG)
Steve Wynn, president and CEO of Wynn Resorts, speaks at the panel titled "Steve Wynn on Building and Sustaining Great Customer Service" at the 2008 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 29, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, speaks at a panel discussion "CEO Conversation: Past, Present and Future of Las Vegas With Steve Wynn" at the 2009 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills,California April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES BUSINESS)
U.S. casino magnate Steve Wynn, head of Wynn Resorts Ltd and Wynn Macau Ltd, introduces the company's latest casino resort during a news conference in Macau June 5, 2012. Wynn said on Tuesday that the company's latest casino resort in the former Portuguese enclave will cost $4 billion, as it bets on continued growth in the world's largest gambling destination. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS)
Donald Trump, Heidi Klum and Steve Wynn during The Associates Committee of The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Host 'A Wynning Hand' at Sotheby's in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
Billionaire Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts Ltd., left, and wife Andrea Hissom arrive to an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. President Donald Trump announced that Foxconn Technology Group plans a new factory in Wisconsin, fulfilling the Taiwanese manufacturing giants promise to invest in the U.S. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The report was the latest in a wave of sexual abuse and harassment allegations leveled against powerful men during the past year, especially in the media and entertainment industries and politics.

Wynn has straddled both those worlds, as a prominent figure in the casino resort business and onetime rival of Donald Trump. Wynn was named finance chairman of the U.S. Republican National Committee after Trump became president.

Former workers, the Journal said, told of employees going to such lengths as making phony entries in appointment books to help other female employees avoid a request for services in Wynn's office, or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they would not be alone with him.

Others, the newspaper said, recounted female employees hiding in the lavatory or backrooms when they learned he was on his way to a hotel salon.

"Everybody was petrified," former salon artistic director Jorgen Nielsen was quoted as telling the Journal.

According to Nielsen, he and others repeatedly told high-level company executives about Wynn's unwanted sexual advances, but "nobody was there to help us."

The article said Wynn paid a $7.5 million settlement to a former manicurist at his flagship Wynn Las Vegas resort who had accused Wynn of forcing her to have sex in his office in 2005.

The Journal said the alleged incident and settlement were mentioned obliquely in court documents filed in a lawsuit brought by the casino owner's former wife, Elaine Wynn, over control of her stock in the company.

Steve Wynn, who turns 76 on Saturday, denied the allegations in a statement emailed to Reuters.

"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," he said. He added, "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."

A spokeswoman for Elaine Wynn, 75, declined comment, but her Washington-based attorney, James Cole, told Reuters the notion that his client fomented the allegations in the Journal article "is just not true."

The couple first married in 1963 and divorced in 1986. They remarried in 1991 and divorced again in 2010, according to court papers. In an escalating battle that followed their bitter second split, Elaine Wynn sued her former spouse in 2016 seeking to gain control over her 9.4 percent stock in Wynn Resorts.

The lawsuit accused her ex-husband of breaching a 2010 stockholder agreement by engineering her ouster from the company's board the previous April.

Wynn owns roughly 11.8 percent of his company, regulatory filings show, giving him a stake worth close to $2.2 billion. Forbes magazine puts his overall net worth at about $3.5 billon.

In addition to Wynn Las Vegas, the company's assets include Encore at Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn Macau. Steve Wynn also helped develop such Las Vegas hotel-casino properties as the Bellagio, the Mirage and Treasure Island.

The Journal said none of the 150 people contacted for its story had reached out to the newspaper, and that most of those interviewed expressed fear that Wynn's influence in the casino industry could hurt their ability to find work elsewhere.

(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York and Pranav Kran in Bengaluru; Editing by Clive McKeef and Lisa Shumaker)

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