Leslie “Les” Moonves — the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation — is being investigated by the network after allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against him.
In a piece by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker published Friday, six women — including actress Illeana Douglas and writer Janet Jones — who professionally dealt with Moonves, 68, between the 1980s and late aughts have accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers,” Farrow writes in his piece.
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves admitted to acting inappropriately in the past.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he continued.
CBS told the outlet that “there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements against Moonves during his twenty-four years at the network.”
The company also issued a statement about the expose, writing, “CBS is very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously. We do not believe, however, that the picture of our company created in The New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect. We are seeing vigorous discourse in our country about equality, inclusion, and safety in the workplace, and CBS is committed to being part of the solution to those important issues.”
The CBS board issued a statement about the claims against Moonves to CNBC, writing, “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously.”
“The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action,” the statement reads.
Reps for Moonves, CBS, Farrow and The New Yorker did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Moonves, who has been married to CBS personality Julie Chen since 2004, has been in a legal battle with Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder in both CBS and Viacom. CBS sued her over her decision to merge CBS with the Redstone family-controlled trust, National Amusements Inc. She, in turn, sued Moonves claiming he didn’t have the right to strip her control of the network.
“The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company’s very public legal dispute,” CBS’s statement to CNBC acknowledged. “While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members. Along with that time, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareholders.”
Farrow was the man behind some of the original reports that helped uncover the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein (all of which he denies). For that report, Farrow was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
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