Las Vegas Review-Journal Buried 1998 Wynn Resorts Allegations

Wynn 1998 Allegations - Las Vegas Review-Journal Geer Thevenot

Review-Journal management at the time told Carri Geer Thevenot to destroy her copy of the story, but she kept it for 20 years.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that waitresses at the Mirage Las Vegas casino filed lawsuits documenting sexual harassment. The waitresses claim they were sent to the rooms of high rollers staying at the Mirage in order to sexually “accommodate” them.

The scandal further involves the Las Vegas Review-Journal, because editors at the newspaper killed the story when reporters first wrote of the allegations in 1998.

Carri Geer Thevenot, who is now the metro editor at the newspaper, was told to delete the draft of her report from her computer at the time. Carri Geer Thevenot refused that order.

Instead, she saved her original story for the past 20 years, in case the time ever was right for the story to be told.

When the Las Vegas Review-Journal finally reported the allegations this week, Geer Thevenot said, “I always wanted to tell these women’s stories. That’s why I saved this file for 20 years.”

Review-Journal: Under New Management

Carri Geer Thevenot’s relationship is much different with the newspaper these days. Though the Las Vegas Review-Journal currently is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, CEO Of Las Vegas Sands, the newspaper was owned by Stephens Media at the time.

The new ownership group has no connection to the management team which buried the original 1998 article and told Carri Geer Thevenot to delete her files. Adelson’s New Media Investment Group bought Stephens Media in December 2015, but had no connection to the newspaper prior to that time.

The LVRJ story was published after a report in the Wall Street Journal involving multiple allegations of sexual harassment by Steve Wynn against salon workers in his casinos. The Wall Street Journal interviewed 150 current and former Wynn workers for their article. Dozens made allegations.

Allegations in 1998 Lawsuit

11 waitresses brought the 1998 lawsuit. Those waitresses claimed they were pressured by management to engage VIP customers. High rollers often are given comps and rewards, including free rooms, free meals, free tickets to show, and cashback. Those are legal promotions for VIPs, but what the waitresses were pressured to do was illegal then and now.

Two of the waitresses underwent lie detector tests at the time. One passed the test, while a second, Cynthia Simmons, failed the test. Simmons alleged the Mirage had pressured her to have sex with customers and was attempting to prove her veracity.

Of the failed test, Cynthia Simmons said she “was under emotional distress” before the polygraph. Simmons told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “I couldn’t even sleep the night before.”

Was It an Open Secret?

Discussing the decision by the paper to kill the story at the time, as well as the current set of allegations, Cynthia Simmons said she believed Steve Wynn’s conduct was an open secret. Simmons said, “I’m shocked anyone thought it was a secret. We all knew this was going on, but nobody spoke up because they were afraid.”

Allegedly Targeted a Grandmother

One of the waitresses in the Las Vegas Review-Journal article this week claimed Wynn Resorts founder and CEO Steve Wynn was involved directly. She claimed that she told coworkers about the birth of her first grandchild, then Wynn pressured her to have carnal relations. The woman claimed he told her he wanted to have relations with a grandmother.

Public Statements on Wynn Resorts Scandal

Since the Wall Street Journal story was published, regulators from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and the Macau Inspectors Bureau announced they would launch investigations into Wynn Resorts’ conduct. Macau and Massachusetts also announced they would share information from their probes.

Wynn Resorts released a press statement when the news first broke. The statement said, “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.”

Update: Steve Wynn Steps Down as CEO

Steve Wynn announced on February 6, 2018 that he was stepping down as the chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts. After nearly two weeks of scandal, the storm of controversy seemed to be increasing — not dying down. The damage to the company would have been too great to remain in charge of the company he founded.

Steve Wynn gave his explanation for the resignation in a press release: “In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself the focus of an avalanche of negative publicity. As I have reflected upon the environment this has created — one in which a rush to judgment takes precedence over everything else, including the facts — I have reached the conclusion I cannot continue to be effective in my current roles.”

Wynn Resorts appointed company president Matt Maddox as CEO, effective immediately. Boone Wayson, one of the Wynn Resorts board members, was installed as the company’s chairman.

Boone Wayson said in a public statement about Wynn’s resignation, “It is with a collective heavy heart, that the board of directors of Wynn Resorts today accepted the resignation of our founder, CEO and friend Steve Wynn.”