Judge: Woman defamed Steve Wynn with police report of rape
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge has ruled a woman defamed former casino mogul Steve Wynn when she reported to Las Vegas police in 2018 that Wynn raped her in Chicago in the early 1970s and that she gave birth to his daughter in a gas station restroom.
Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel, who heard the case in Las Vegas without a jury, on Monday awarded Wynn the “nominal” damage amount of $1 that the billionaire former head of Wynn Resorts and his attorneys sought from Halina Kuta.
“I find that Mr. Wynn’s testimony is credible and Ms. Kuta’s testimony lacks veracity in numerous areas,” the judge said. He declared that Kuta, who represented herself in the trial, “knowingly made a false report” to police.
“This was intentional,” the judge said of the police filing, “although this story seems to be totally fanciful.”
A redacted police report was provided to The Associated Press under a public records request in February 2018 and served as a basis for an AP report about two police reports filed by women who alleged sexual misconduct by Wynn.
Wynn, 78, resigned in February 2018 as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts. He has consistently denied sexual misconduct allegations, which were first reported in January 2018 by the Wall Street Journal.
Kuta, 73, lives in Laguna Vista, Texas. The AP typically does not publish names of people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Kuta agreed to be named in AP news reports.
In answer to questions from Wynn attorney Tamara Peterson, Kuta acknowledged she sought $150 million from Wynn to settle the case.
Wynn testified that he never met Kuta. He maintained that Kuta’s claims were clearly false — including that she, and not Wynn’s then-wife, Elaine Wynn, was the mother of their daughter, Kevyn Wynn, and that Kuta was the model for Pablo Picasso’s painting, “Le Reve,” or “The Dream.”
“You’d have to be delusional not to understand that they were lies and fabrications of the worst order,” Wynn said on the witness stand. “What I’m asking for is to have this miserable fiction finally called for what it is, a miserable fiction.”
“I would say that I have never set eyes on Ms. Kuta before today, but I can’t see her,” added Wynn, who was diagnosed nearly 50 years ago with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa.
The judge, who earlier rejected Kuta’s bids to obtain DNA from Wynn’s daughter, noted a birth certificate showed Kevyn Wynn was born in 1967 to Steve and Elaine Wynn at a hospital in Washington, D.C. That was several years before Kuta claimed she was raped by Wynn in 1973 or 1974.
Picasso painted “Le Reve” in 1932, more than a decade before Kuta was born. Steve Wynn sold the painting in 2013.
Wynn has contended the allegations in Kuta’s police report were so outrageous the AP should have known they were false, including a graphic description of giving birth. The copy of the police report provided to the AP did not show the woman’s name or date of birth and blacked out information about the woman stating she was Wynn’s spouse.
Israel ruled in August 2018 the AP report qualified as fair reporting because it relied on an official police record. He also invoked protection for the news agency under a Nevada state law known as anti-SLAPP or “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” The ruling allows AP to recover legal fees in the case.
Wynn has appealed that ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court, which has scheduled oral arguments April 1 in Las Vegas.