CBS CEO Leslie Moonves about to step down amid new assault and harassment claims: Report
As six more women have come forward to The New Yorker with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Leslie Moonves — doubling the total number of women formally accusing him of misconduct — the CBS CEO is imminently expected to announce that he is stepping down from the network, CNN reports.
Among the new accusations made to The New Yorker is one by veteran television executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, who worked with Moonves in the late 1980s. Golden-Gottlieb tells The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow “that she filed a criminal complaint late last year with the Los Angeles Police Department, accusing Moonves of physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and of exposing himself to her and violently throwing her against a wall in later incidents.”
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves acknowledged three of the six new encounters detailed by the outlet Sunday, but said they were consensual: “The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” the statement said. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. 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. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.” The outlet reports that Moonves declined to specify which three encounters he considered consensual.
Shortly after the New Yorker story broke Sunday, CNN Money reported that the CBS board of directors “is likely to announce the deal by Monday morning, according to two executives with direct knowledge of the matter.”
A representative for CBS did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment regarding the new CNN and New Yorker reports.
News of this departure timeline comes days after a CNBC report stating that Moonves, 68, was in settlement talks with the CBS board of directors about leaving the company.
Moonves, who has been accused of inappropriate conduct in incidents that happened more than two decades ago, was reportedly offered somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million by the board, CNBC reported. The executive is reportedly due nearly $180 million in severance and a production deal under his current contract.
The first six women accused Moonves of sexual misconduct in a lengthy article published in The New Yorker last month, which also suggested that the company maintains a testosterone-fueled culture where “everything feels old, the people, the furniture, the culture, the mores.” One of the accusers is actress Illeana Douglas (Six Feet Under), who reportedly alleges she was fired from a 1997 pilot after refusing Moonves’ advances, which included “violent kissing” and holding her down on his office couch.
At the time of those first six misconduct accusations, Moonves released this statement to The New Yorker, which was also obtained by EW: “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our Company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
A former actor, Moonves went on to become one of the most powerful men in the industry after resuscitating CBS. His compensation reflects his value to the company: The New Yorker reports that he earned nearly $70,000,000 last year, making him one of the highest-paid executives in the world.