Nevada Supreme Court Looking at Steve Wynn Defamation Lawsuit Against Associated Press

  • Steve Wynn appealed a defamation case that was dismissed in 2018
  • Wynn is accusing AP of omitting important details in its recounting of a police report
  • In 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported scores of sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn
  • The former casino mogul resigned from his company in 2018
Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas
The Nevada Supreme Court is considering the reinstatement of a defamation lawsuit brought by Steve Wynn against the AP regarding a 2018 article about sexual misconduct allegations. [Image:]

District Court dismissed case in 2018

The Nevada Supreme Court is considering reopening a previously dismissed defamation lawsuit against The Associated Press (AP) and one of its reporters, which had been filed by Steve Wynn. The two-year-old case revolves around an AP article from February 2018 describing sexual misconduct allegations by two women against Wynn.

The article was based on police reports. Wynn’s lawyer claimed that the piece did not adequately describe what he believed were “fantastical” parts of one of the women’s stories, portions that would have painted the former casino baron as more of a sympathetic figure. Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel ruled in August 2018 that the article was fair, based on the police reports it used as reference.

Was the defamation enhanced…by what the AP omitted in its reporting?”

In appealing to the Nevada Supreme Court during arguments via video conference on Monday, Wynn’s attorney Todd Bice said, “The question for the court is very simple. Was the defamation enhanced…by what the AP omitted in its reporting? The answer to that is absolutely yes.”

One accuser’s claims in question

The specific account of Steve Wynn’s alleged sexual misconduct at issue involves Halina Kuta, who was named in the case, but not the original AP report (she gave AP permission to use her name in later reports). According to the article, Kuta told police that Wynn raped her in Chicago in the early 1970s. She said she later gave birth to his child in a gas station restroom.

Kuta’s story is admittedly strange, as she added that she had married Wynn and had more kids with him, but couldn’t remember all of their names or birthdays. She also told lawyers that she was the model that Pablo Picasso painted in his piece “Le Rêve,” even though it was painted in 1932, before she was born. Kuta claimed that Wynn stole Picasso and Rembrandt artworks from her.

The bizarre stories cast doubt on whether or not she had told the truth to police. Wynn says that the AP omitted some of the most unusual details. Judge Israel decided that, while it should have probably included a few extra points, the media outlet described the police reports accurately enough, especially considering that the identities of the two accusers were concealed at the time.

In March of this year, Judge Israel sided with Wynn against Kuta, saying parts of her story were “totally fanciful”. He awarded Wynn $1 in damages.

Wynn accused of disgusting behavior

Steve Wynn resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd, the company he founded, in February 2018 amid a series of disturbing sexual misconduct allegations. It was a rapid descent for Wynn following a January 26, 2018 report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that detailed an alleged pattern of sexual assault and Wynn pressuring female employees into sexual acts.

Wynn eventually paid her $7.5 million in a settlement

In one instance described in the piece, a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas was called into Steve Wynn’s office in 2005 to provide a manicure. After she was done, Wynn allegedly pressured her to disrobe, lie down on a massage table, and have sex with him. She protested and added that she was married, but ultimately gave in. Wynn eventually paid her $7.5 million in a settlement, but even then, he paid through a limited-liability company to hide the source of the payment.

In another incident, a massage therapist told WSJ that Wynn insisted that he be naked during multiple sessions per week. He touched the therapist inappropriately during the sessions and even had her perform sex acts on him.

The Nevada Gaming Commission hit Wynn Resorts with a record $20m fine in February 2019 for its failure to properly address the accusations against its CEO.

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