Dozens of People Recount Pattern of Sexual Misconduct by Las Vegas Mogul Steve Wynn

Wynn Resorts employees and others described a CEO who sexualized his workplace and pressured workers to perform sex acts. Mr. Wynn responded: ‘The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.’

.. Mr. Wynn, turning 76 on Saturday, is a towering figure in Las Vegas and the wider gambling industry. As builder of the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore casinos in Las Vegas—lavish, multiuse resorts with features such as artificial volcanoes, dancing fountains and French chefs—he brought a new level of sophistication and scale to the Strip.

.. Mr. Wynn no longer owns the Mirage, Treasure Island or Bellagio, but his empire now includes two casinos bearing his name in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, and he is building a $2.4 billion Wynn casino in the Boston area. He is the chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts.

.. Mr. Wynn owns nearly 12% of Wynn Resorts, a stake worth $2.4 billion, and is considered integral to its success. His signature is the company logo. In a recent securities filing citing possible risks to the business, the company said, “If we lose the services of Mr. Wynn, or if he is unable to devote sufficient attention to our operations for any other reason, our business may be significantly impaired.”

.. Mr. Wynn is a regular on his casino floors, known for a keen attention to details and what employees say is a temper that can flare when they fall short. He has frequently had services such as manicures, massages and makeup application performed in his on-site office at the Wynn Las Vegas.

.. Former employees said their awareness of Mr. Wynn’s power in Las Vegas, combined with the knowledge that the jobs they held were among the best-paying available there, added up to a feeling of dependence and intimidation when Mr. Wynn made requests of them.

Some said that feeling was heightened at times by the presence in a confined office space of one or more of his German shepherds, trained to respond to commands in German.

.. Former employees said they sometimes entered fake appointments in the books to help other female workers get around a request for services in Mr. Wynn’s office or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they wouldn’t be alone with him. They told of female employees hiding in the bathroom or back rooms when they learned he was on the way to the salon.

.. he would continually adjust a towel to expose himself. Then at one session, she said, he threw it off and said, “Just get this thing off of me.”

.. She said he wouldn’t let her use a towel to cover his genitals after that, contrary to state licensing regulations, and he also began rubbing her leg while she massaged him.

.. After a few weeks, the former employee said, Mr. Wynn instructed her to massage his penis to climax. The woman said that because he was her boss, she felt she had no choice but to agree to some of Mr. Wynn’s requests, including that one. She said masturbating him became a frequent part of the massage sessions for several months.

.. In subsequent sessions, the woman said, Mr. Wynn asked her to perform oral sex on him and described in detail how he wanted it done. This request she refused, she said.

.. Dennis Gomes, who was an executive at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas when Mr. Wynn was running that casino decades ago, said in a deposition in an early-1990s lawsuit that Mr. Gomes “routinely received complaints from various department heads regarding Wynn’s chronic sexual harassment of female employees,” according to a court filing that summarized his testimony.

.. Mr. Gomes described what he called a “disgraceful pattern of personal and professional conduct” that he said included Mr. Wynn’s directing him to get the home phone numbers of casino cocktail waitresses.

.. The employee and the supervisor said they sought to manage the situation rather than report it because they believed there would be repercussions if they did.

.. a woman who was a salon manager at the time said she filed a written report to human resources. She said she got a call from an executive, Doreen Whennen, castigating her for filing to HR and saying she should have taken the matter directly to Ms. Whennen.

.. Ms. Wynn, who is a co-founder and former board member of Wynn Resorts, is seeking to free herself from restrictions on the control of her estimated $1.9 billion of stock that were imposed by a 2010 agreement with Mr. Wynn.

As More Companies Demand Arbitration Agreements, Sexual Harassment Claims Fizzle

Many in business community say arbitration is a cheaper, faster and simpler way to adjudicate claims; critics say it’s secretive and unfair to workers

Charmaine Anderson thought she had a strong case against Waffle House.

Ms. Anderson claimed the diner chain fired her in 2012 from her $3.95-an-hour waitress job near New Orleans after she complained about her boss, whom she accused of texting her images of his penis, then threatening her with a knife if she reported him.

Her plans to pursue the claim unraveled when her attorney discovered after filing suit that Ms. Anderson, like other Waffle House workers, had signed an agreement mandating she settle any employment-related claims through arbitration instead of civil court.

Her attorney advised her that it wasn’t worth taking it to arbitration. Without a lawyer, she dropped it. “I knew I couldn’t fight it so I just let it go,” said Ms. Anderson, now 42 years old and living unemployed in Mississippi. “It was a humiliating situation. I felt like I was nobody and didn’t have a chance.”

More companies are adopting the mandatory-arbitration clauses, and many employees are walking away from harassment, wrongful-termination and discrimination claims rather than taking them to a privately run tribunal

.. When they call, “I say, I’m sorry, arbitration is stacked against you,” he said.

.. Before Ms. Anderson’s case was dismissed in court in 2013, Waffle House had pushed back on her allegations, disputing even that the man she accused was her supervisor, according to court records.

.. Arbitrators usually don’t follow federal rules of civil procedure and, compared with courts, impose tighter limits on pretrial discovery. Arbitration cases are generally confidential and harder to appeal.

.. critics say the system is secretive and unfair to workers. Some lawmakers in Congress are currently pushing to restrict mandatory arbitration in cases of sexual harassment.

.. It isn’t clear how many sexual-harassment claims are heard in arbitration but the evidence suggests it is a relatively small number. The American Arbitration Association says it received about 100 sexual-harassment claims in 2016

.. Plaintiffs’ lawyers he surveyed in a new study told him that settlements on average are $12,000 less for clients covered by the clauses.

Hollywood Uses the Very Women It Exploited to Change the Subject

As allegations of sexual exploitations pile up, the
industry has absorbed the critiques and converted them
into inspirational messaging and branding exercises.

Is it possible for Hollywood to truly reckon with its issues while it’s so busy celebrating itself? It’s remarkable how slickly the entertainment industry — and its annual showcase, the winter awards show circuit — has adapted to the accusations against it. Harvey Weinstein may have been cast out of Hollywood (exiled, for now, to a spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.), but his complicity machine stretched its tentacles into agencies, law firms, fashion deals and of course, awards shows. New allegations of exploitations and inequities are revealed every week. The details suggest systemic rot.

In response, Hollywood has nimbly absorbed its critiques and converted them into inspirational messaging and digestible branding exercises, just in time for the unfurling of the red carpets. Whatever talks may (or may not) be happening inside agencies or on film sets, the message that comes across is this: The industry has skirted a conversation about its culture of harassment in favor of one about what an amazing job it is doing combatting that harassment. It’s engaged in just enough introspection to recalibrate and move on.

.. But when an earnest effort is fed through the Hollywood machine, it is quickly repurposed for what Hollywood does best, which is to sell things — women included. The initiative has revealed as much about Hollywood’s still unexamined sexism as it has the abuses it intended to address. In short, that women are expected to clean up the industry’s mess, and look good doing it. And they don’t have much choice, either, because if they say nothing, they’ll be knocked for that, too.

.. In this commodified atmosphere, it was difficult to process the appearance of real activists on the red carpet: #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, came as Michelle Williams’s date, while Meryl Streep brought along Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The tactic bucked expectation — namely, that actresses tie their public personas to their relationships with men — and gave these pioneering activists exposure that’s hard to come by, but it also revealed the impossibility of dismantling an event bent on promoting a certain kind of femininity and luxury at once.

.. The image of white actresses paired with activists of color suggested a kind of moral accessorizing. And the meeting of celebrities and “regular” people came tinged with a preset narrative, one where the celebrity’s perceived exceptionalism is only enhanced by her engagement with the real world. But when Ryan Seacrest interviewed Ms. Williams and Ms. Burke on the red carpet, E! made it clear which it valued most — women’s appearance, or what they have to say. The network shrank Ms. Burke’s image into a corner as soon as she began speaking and turned its gaze to the actress Dakota Johnson. She twirled.

.. Watching this sparkling protest unfold, it’s easy to forget what exactly is being protested. The ugliness of rape and abuse is polished into optimistic hashtags and spun into glamorous dresses. In glad-handing Hollywood, criticizing the industry is verboten, but using one’s platform to advocate for other people is so expected it’s a cliché. (Mr. Weinstein himself was a master of linking his films to social causes, cynically pitching the award show ballot as a kind of morality test.)

.. The most electrifying moments of this protest have come when Hollywood women choose instead to model what it looks like to interrogate their own industry’s destructive norms: When Debra Messing broke red carpet geniality to speak out against E!’s underpayment of women, straight into an E! microphone, or when Ms. Portman presented the Golden Globes’ best director nominees as “all-male.”

.. all of this is quite easier for men. Just as they’re not required to uphold the same standards of beauty as their female peers, men are generally excused from carrying the moral weight, too. At the Golden Globes, they got by silently wearing Time’s Up lapel pins.

.. Justin Timberlake captioned his pre-Globes Instagram snap: “Here we come! And DAMN, my wife is hot! #TIMESUP #whywewearblack.” The bar is so low for men that this was, according to Instagram, the most-liked post of the night.

.. One way to push Hollywood toward change is to heighten its contradictions, drawing out the gap between its shimmering idea of itself and its darker realities. The image Hollywood builds for itself at these self-congratulatory events can be used as a bargaining chip for behind-the-scenes activist wins. As the SAG Awards neared, pressure mounted for the guild to protect its workers by installing a real code of conduct to address harassment. And as “All the Money in the World” racked up award nominations, the revelation that Mark Wahlberg earned much more to participate in reshoots than his co-star Ms. Williams — reshoots necessary to scrub the film of Kevin Spacey, and make it palatable for post-#MeToo audiences — created such a PR nightmare that Mr. Wahlberg ended up donating his $1.5 million salary to Time’s Up.

.. When Mr. Franco attended the Golden Globes earlier this month, grinned down the red carpet and bounded onstage to claim a statuette for “The Disaster Artist,” he wore the Time’s Up logo pinned to his lapel. As the night unfolded, female acting students and collaborators began filing complaints on Twitter about Mr. Franco’s own behavior, noting the hypocrisy of the pin. When Mr. Franco appeared on Seth Meyers’s show days later, he was grilled over the allegations. A Los Angeles Times report came next. Mr. Franco skipped the Critic’s Choice Awards, and when he turned up at the SAG Awards last Sunday, his very appearance made news. This time, he didn’t wear the pin. Aziz Ansari, who himself weathered his own hypocrisy scandal after wearing the pin at the Golden Globes, didn’t even show up. All of a sudden, a Hollywood awards show is a perilous place for some men to be.

.. For a woman, getting old is as much of a career-ending affront as an assault allegation is for a man. When Mr. Meyers opened his Golden Globes monologue by greeting the “ladies and remaining gentlemen,” I thought of all the women who don’t “remain” in Hollywood, either, pushed out through abuse or just discarded. One of those women — until recently — was Rose McGowan.

.. She’s now emerged as the most prominent actress to take aim not just at Hollywood abusers but at Hollywood itself.

.. Ms. McGowan and other accusers of Mr. Weinstein were not invited to the campaign’s Golden Globes coming-out party.

.. On Twitter, she’s called out “fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes.” Of Ms. Streep, she wrote: “YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change.”

.. its opening line — “I was in the middle of my second movie for his company, and I get assaulted” — is itself more real and more damning than anything that’s been said at these Hollywood events.

Trump and the Truth: The Sexual-Assault Allegations

asked respondents whether they believed that Trump “probably has or has not made unwanted sexual advances toward women.” Sixty-eight per cent of registered voters believed that he had; only fourteen per cent believed that he had not. Forty-three per cent of likely voters in the poll said that they would vote for Trump, suggesting that a significant portion of Trump’s supporters think that he’s lying, and do not care.

.. Even in his denials, Trump is acting like Trump, offering a string of epithets and diminishments that reinforce the idea that preying on women is a normal thing to do. It seems entirely clear that these allegations disturb Trump only because they inconvenience him. He has not once spoken about the matter as if he understands that groping women, in itself, is wrong.

.. That makes twenty-four women who have corroborated Trump’s own boasting, twenty of whom have offered up their identities.

.. consider the time he told ABC that he had advised his friends to “be rougher” with their wives

.. This isn’t sexual misconduct as much as it is the language of a man who doesn’t believe that such a thing really exists.

.. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, said that, “by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse,” and then he threatened revenge over the story.

.. As Trump has done, Cohen refuted an allegation of sexual violence in an alarming tone that immediately brings sexual violence to mind. “What I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting,” he said.

.. he worked with many of his accusers, and even the witness produced by Trump’s campaign to discredit Leeds—a man who, by the way, once boasted about arranging underage sex parties for politicians—acknowledged that Leeds and Trump were sitting next to each other on the plane.

.. At the Greensboro rally, he addressed Leeds’s story in a similar manner: she wasn’t hot enough to be preyed on. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice,”

.. He and his team have repeatedly defended themselves by invoking the idea that women with assault stories are looking for “some free fame,” as Trump said at the Greensboro rally, or “free publicity,” as Hope Hicks said about Kristin Anderson. Trump raised the issue again at Wednesday night’s debate, saying that the accusers had been brought forward by the Clinton campaign to enjoy their “ten minutes of fame,” as if any person could possibly find this enjoyable.

.. He has even seemed to imply that most accusations of sexual misconduct are dubious. “I don’t think they’d happen with very many people,”

Donald Trump defends Roger Ailes, casts suspicion on his accusers

Donald Trump this weekend defended longtime friend Roger Ailes, the ousted chief executive of Fox News who is accused of sexually harassing at least two dozen women. Trump also questioned the motives of some of the women.

.. “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them, and even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him,” Trump said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Saturday evening. “It’s very sad because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And, by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly.”

.. Trump added that “a lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign,” but he wouldn’t say whether those people were correct.