Leslie Moonves out at CBS after new allegations made public, network says

Tabitha Dunn
September 10, 2018

Leslie Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to supporting the #MeToo movement, the company said.

Moonves joined CBS as head of entertainment in 1995, and has been CEO of CBS Corp. since 2006, leading the CBS network, Showtime and other entities.

Six more women have made bone-chilling allegations of abuse, harassment and retaliation against Les Moonves. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Six additional women are now accusing Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early aughts.

A representative of CBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and her company National Amusements declined to comment. The news made headlines, and CBS promised to investigate the allegations, but since then there's been radio silence from the network as Moonves quietly continues on as CEO (he is now negotiating his exit from the company). The Moonves-led CBS had opposed such a deal, leading to an open revolt in the board room and a legal battle to diminish Redstone's influence over the company. Redstone and her father Sumner, through their holding company National Amusements, owns the majority of voting shares in CBS and Viacom.

A second wave of allegations were reported by Farrow in a follow-up story first published on Sunday. Some of the women say Moonves retaliated against them and that their careers suffered after they rebuffed his advances.

The company did not rule out the possibility of Moonves receiving future benefits, stating that such a payment "will depend on the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board investigation". Deadline sources have said that a giant $100 million exit package is "off the table", and that the New Yorker reports give the network reason to drop the CEO "for cause".

New: 3 hours after this story ran, CNN reported Moonves will step down.

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In the newest report from Farrow, where six women go on the record to describe what most state's laws define as "Oral Copulation by Force or Fear; when a victim is forced to perform oral sex on a perpetrator, receive oral sex from a perpetrator, or both", Moonves says the assaults never happened. "Lawyers were said to be putting the finishing touches on the settlement on Sunday".

Moonves took over Lorimar Television in 1989, further consolidating his power after its merger with Warner Bros.

CBS said it had launched an investigation.

Following the New Yorker report in August, Moonves said he regretted "immensely" making some women uncomfortable by making advances, but added that he abided by the principle that "no" means "no", and stated he had never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone's career.

"What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was sacked for not participating", actress and writer Illeana Douglas told the magazine in the July report.

Sources told CNN, CNBC, and Reuters that the CBS board of directors would likely announce the move Monday morning.

The L.A. Times said CBS' board will wait until the conclusion of an investigation into allegations of misconduct. "The actions described in this article are those of sexual assault and shame on anyone else in the corporation who knew about his crimes".

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