Fired Curator Sues Erotic Heritage Museum Founder, Alleges Affair

Oct 5, 2012 3:45 PM PST

LAS VEGAS — Dr. Laura Henkel, the former director of art and associate curator of the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the museum's founder Dr. Ted McIlvenna.

Dr. Henkel alleges in the suit, filed in Clark County District Court, that Dr. McIlvenna fired her because she refused to rekindle the affair she ended with him three-years ago in 2007. Henkel is seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $50,000.

Also named in the lawsuit are Dr. McIlvenna's wife and business partner Winnie McIlvenna, the McIlvennas' Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco and the Erotic Heritage Museum, which launched in 2008 and is home to more than 17,000 square feet of erotic displays and memorabilia. 

Dr. Henkel claims to have met Dr. McIlvenna in 2003 while enrolled at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Dr. McIlvenna was her professor and mentor when they began an affair in 2004. In the lawsuit, Dr. Henkel describes the relationship as "abusive and unhealthy."

She also alleges that Dr. McIlvenna's obsession with her continued while she worked as the Erotic Heritage Museum's art director and curator, leading to hospitalization for anxiety. She was fired on Sept. 24, 2010.

Dr. McIlvenna told LasVegasSun.com that he had yet to see the lawsuit, but dismissed the allegations as "nonsense," telling the site that Dr. Henkel was terminated for not reimbursing the museum the money she had borrowed for a trip to Germany with her boyfriend.

"I was not the one who was crazy and jealous," Dr. McIlvenna said. "I'm 80-years-old. She's a woman in her 40s. I simply terminated her for cause."

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