CBS Corp. chairman and chief executive Leslie Moonves is stepping down following accusations that he sexually harassed and assaulted numerous women over the course of his career, reports The Wall Street Journal. CBS also announced a settlement of outstanding legal disputes with its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc., and six of CBS’s board members will be replaced.
CBS hired a law firm to investigate Moonves’s alleged misconduct. The size of his exit package will be decided after the firm completes their work. If he is cleared of wrongdoing, he could walk away with more than $100 million, reports WSJ. But if he is found to have engaged in serious misconduct, he could receive nothing. Moonves, who has been one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful figures, and CBS agreed to immediately donate $20 million to “organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace,” the company said in a statement, and that money would be deducted from any severance that Moonves might get.
The law firm was hired by CBS after the New Yorker published an article detailing sexual assault and harassment accusations in July. The New Yorker published on Sunday another article detailing new allegations from six more women, including claims that Moonves forced some of them to perform oral sex, engaged in other violent and intimidating behavior, and retaliated against them when they refused. In response to these latest claims, Moonves has acknowledged to the New Yorker hree of the six alleged encounters took place, but said they were consensual. He has previously apologized for behavior that made women feel uncomfortable, but denied retaliating against any subordinates who pushed him away, writes WSJ.
“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am,” Moonves said in a statement Sunday. He also said that he was “saddened” to be leaving the company after 24 years.
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