NEW YORK (AFP) - Dozens of people have accused Las Vegas casino billionaire Steve Wynn of decades of sexual misconduct in which he allegedly pressured staff to perform sex acts, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday (Jan 26).
The bombshell report, for which the Journal contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Wynn, is the first time that the US sexual harassment watershed has centered on the CEO and founder of a major publicly held company - whose shares tumbled 7.8 per cent following the report's publication.
Wynn, who is a former business rival turned political ally of President Donald Trump, denied the allegations and accused his ex-wife Elaine of instigating the accusations as part of a "terrible and nasty lawsuit" seeking a revised divorce settlement.
The allegations include a married manicurist who said Wynn forced her to have sex not long after he opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, and whom he later paid a US$7.5 million (S$9.8 million) settlement, the newspaper reported.
"The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous," said Wynn in a statement.
"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."
Wynn, 75, is a towering figure in the gambling world and finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. His empire includes casinos in Macau.
Former employees said their awareness of Wynn's power, combined with the knowledge that they had some of the best-paying jobs in Las Vegas added up to a feeling of dependence and intimidation when he made requests, the Journal reported.
One former massage therapist said he instructed her to manually stimulate his genitalia during sessions, and that she felt she had to agree because he was her boss.
Another former worker said Wynn rubbed his genitals and commented about what he would like to do with her sexually, and once grabbed her waist and told her to kiss him.
Wynn Resorts, which employs 23,000 people around the world, also lashed out at Elaine Wynn and said not one complaint had been made about Wynn on a company hotline.
"The company requires all employees to receive annual anti-harassment training and offers an independent hotline that any employee can use anonymously, without fear of retaliation," it said.