CBS chief Les Moonves to step down amid new sexual assault claims

Mike Windle  Getty Images

Mike Windle Getty Images

Leslie Moonves, one of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry, has officially resigned from his position as the chairman and CEO of CBS on Sunday evening, September 9, 2018, CNN reports.

Just hours later, CBS announced that Moonves would depart as chairman, president and CEO "effective immediately", and that he and the network would donate $20 million to supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.

The New Yorker reported on Sunday (Sep 9) that the women say they were harassed or assaulted between 1980 and the early 2000s by Moonves, who in more than two decades with the network helped lift it from last place to profitable status as America's most-watched.

"Any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent board evaluation", CBS announced in a statement.

Chief Operating Officer Joe Ianiello will take over as interim CEO as the board searches for a replacement, according to the announcement.

According to Deadline, the Moonves responded to the New Yorker report in a statement that claimed three of the six accusations were from women with whom he had consensual encounters. Moonves has publically feuded with Shari Redstone to keep CBS from merging with sister company Viacom.

She says Moonves suggested going to lunch on a work day, but instead drove to a secluded area where he "grabbed my head and he took it all the way down onto his penis, and pushed his penis into my mouth".

The Financial Times said imminent boardroom changes meant Mr Moonves would lose support and he was resigning because this would entitle him to a hefty severance package, including stock options. While the former CEO does have a controversial severance package valued at over $100 million, his donation will be deducted from the final amount. "CBS board also being reshaped, with 6 new members appointed".

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CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves will step down from his position amid a series of sexual misconduct complaints by at least 12 female accusers.

Farrow reported later Sunday that Moonves "will no longer receive any exit compensation, pending outcome of investigation, and that a portion of those funds will go to#MeToo causes".

One of the accusers who came forth in the New Yorker's article on Sunday, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, also filed a complaint with the Los Angeles police a year ago, but no charges were filed because the statute of limitations had expired. Women told journalist Ronan Farrow that Moonves physically intimidated them and sometimes retaliated if they rejected his advances to damage their careers.

Moonves, 68, joined CBS in 1995 and became CEO in 2006. "Our Board of Directors is conducting a thorough investigation of these matters, which is ongoing".

"This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women", O'Donnell said.

Moonves has since denied this new round of allegations, stating to the publication, "The appalling accusations in this article are untrue".

And if you're wondering (like I am) how Moonves is allowed to keep his job, the answer is simple: power. Despite the charges, Moonves remained in charge while CBS, where he's been for 23 years, launched an in-house investigation.

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