The Las Vegas Review-Journal Killed a Story 20 Years Ago About Steve Wynn Sexual Misconduct Claims

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Following reports of alleged sexual misconduct that forced casino developer Steve Wynn to step down from his post as RNC Finance Chairman, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that in 1998, their own newspaper buried a story detailing similar behavior.


Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wynn allegedly forced employees to have sex with him and would do things like “sit in the salon to get pedicures in such a way that his genitals were exposed”; the Journal has since reported that Wynn has tried to rally employees to his side by reminding them that he didn’t fire them during the recession. He has denied the allegations against him, claiming “It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.” He has not responded to the Review Journal’s request for comment on the latest allegations.

Twenty years ago, in a story that could have prevented some of these more recent alleged activities from happening, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Carri Geer was working on a story about a federal lawsuit against Wynn and the Mirage. The Review Journal now reports that the newspaper paid for lie detector tests for two of the story’s female sources, which is not, uh, really something reputable newspapers are supposed to do.

According to the Review-Journal, the suit, filed by 11 women, alleged that employees were groped and harassed by customers and weren’t protected by their supervisors, and that waitresses were sent to “accommodate customers sexually,” which all sounds quite familiar. Another server said in the court filing that after talking about her grandchild in the early ’90s, Wynn pressured her to have sex with him, saying he wanted to have sex with a grandmother.

Greer, who still works at the Review-Journal, was ultimately blocked from publishing the story and ordered to delete it from the newspaper’s system, though she says she did not remember who made those calls. Then-publisher Sherman Frederick, who Greer said ordered the lie detector tests, told the Review-Journal that he doesn’t remember the story or ordering the tests, although there are records of the test results and their $600 bill, and the Western Security Consultants polygraph examiner confirmed that it happened. Cynthia Simmons, who told the Review-Journal that she’d been forced to have sex with Mirage customers, failed the polygraph test; she now says she was under “emotional distress.” Earlene Wiggins, a plaintiff in the lawsuit who passed the test, died in 2006.

“I always wanted to tell these women’s stories. That’s why I saved this file for 20 years,” Geer told the Review-Journal.

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


Executor Elassus

Stories like this are why it’s so difficult for me to take seriously the pleas of dying old-media companies (and not just a few of the new-media ones as well) that journalism is some venerable public institution deserving of our esteem (and, more to the point, of our money).