Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS, has been accused of sexual misconduct by six women in a new investigative report for The New Yorker.
Ronan Farrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his reporting on sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, alleges that Moonves acted inappropriately between the 1980s through to about a decade ago.
Four women described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, while two accused Moonves of physical intimidation and said he threatened to derail their careers if his advances weren’t reciprocated. This includes actress/writer Illeana Douglas who came forward in the report and says: “What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating” before going into detail about a meeting in which she alleges he forced himself on her, held her down and then when she scrambled to escape he blocked her exit.
Thirty current and former CBS employees have also detailed to Farrow a negative workplace culture, with men accused of sexual misconduct getting promoted while the company settled complaints with women. According to CBS, there have been no misconduct claims or settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network. However, the company announced earlier today that it is looking into the accusations.
Moonves released the following statement: “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.”
The claims come as litigation between Moonves and Shari Redstone, the controlling shareholder in both CBS and Viacom, continues with both fighting for control of the company. CBS and Moonves have been blocking Redstone from merging the companies and Redstone has denied claims she might have contributed information for the article.