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Las Vegas casino billionaire steps down from key Republican role after sexual misconduct allegations

Steve Wynn has denied the allegations, first published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Image: Javier Rojas/Prensa Internacional via ZUMA Wire

LAS VEGAS CASINO billionaire Steve Wynn stepped down yesterday as Republican National Committee finance chairman, following allegations of decades of sexual misconduct.

The 76-year-old former business rival turned political ally of President Donald Trump had assumed the RNC position after Trump took office in January 2017.

Wynn has denied the allegations, first published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, and accused his ex-wife Elaine of instigating the accusations as part of a “terrible and nasty lawsuit” seeking a revised divorce settlement.

“Today I accepted Steve Wynn’s resignation as Republican National Committee Finance Chair,” RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement to AFP yesterday.

Politico said McDaniel had discussed Wynn’s case with Trump earlier in the day. The president returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late Friday.

A towering figure in the gambling world, Wynn has been a prolific Republican donor whose empire includes casinos in Macau.

The allegations include a married manicurist who said Wynn forced her to have sex shortly after he opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, and whom he later paid a $7.5 million settlement, the Journal reported.

“The idea that I ever assaulted any woman is preposterous,” Wynn said 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.

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 Journal contacted more than 150 people who work or had worked for Wynn in its reporting.

It was 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% following the report’s publication.

- © AFP, 2018

Read: Natalie Portman has spoken out about being sexually objectified as a 13-year-old in Hollywood

Read: Debate Room: Has #MeToo turned into a witch hunt?

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