CBS boss Les Moonves resigns after new and explicit sexual harassment allegations
The powerful television executive’s departure came after The New Yorker reported that he forced women to perform oral sex on him, exposed himself, and used intimidation and physical violence
CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves resigned from the company, the company said on Sunday, amid fresh allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
The announcement came after six additional women come forward to accuse Moonves of harassment or assault in previous decades, The New Yorker reported. He and the media company’s board were already negotiating his exit.
The reported incidents occurred in the 1980s and early 2000s and include claims that the executive forced women to perform oral sex on him, exposed himself, and used intimidation and physical violence, according to The New Yorker story published on Sunday.
The author is Ronan Farrow, whose reporting previously helped topple movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
Moonves, in a statement to The New Yorker, acknowledged three of the encounters while maintaining that they were consensual.
“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” the executive said, before the announcement of his resignation, adding that he has “never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women.”
Moonves and CBS will donate US$20 million to supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace, the company said. His interim replacement will be chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello.
One of the women who has come forward against Moonves filed a complaint late last year with the Los Angeles Police Department but prosecutors declined to pursue charges because the statute of limitations had expired, The New Yorker reported, citing law-enforcement officials it did not name.
CBS and controlling shareholder National Amusements Inc could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
CBS had been expected to announce on Monday that Moonves was resigning, but the new accusations appear to have moved the announcement forward.
CBS has negotiated an estimated US$100 million settlement with Moonves, sources said.
Under Moonves’s contract, the 68-year-old could be owed as much as US$180 million in severance – as well as a production deal – but the CEO had been facing challenges on a number of fronts.
He had been battling National Amusements over board control, in addition to the harassment complaints.
But CBS also has reportedly reached a deal to settle litigation over the control of the company with its controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements Inc in a deal expected to be announced as early as before the markets open on Monday, the sources said.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse