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Leslie Moonves Out at CBS, May Walk Away With $120 Million Payout

Six more women detail allegations against longtime chairman in follow-up ‘New Yorker’ article

Leslie MoonvesLynda Carter honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, USA - 03 Apr 2018

Time's Up urged CBS to donate the entirety of Les Moonves' $120 million severance package to organizations that address sexual harassment.

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UPDATE: Moonves officially resigned Sunday night. Leslie Moonves will depart as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer effective immediately. Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as President and Acting CEO while the Board conducts a search for a permanent successor,” the network said in a press release. “Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace. The donation, which will be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the Board’s ongoing independent investigation led by Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton.”

According to Reuters, Moonves, who faces multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, may still receive up to $120 million from CBS if “an internal investigation into allegations of harassment fails to provide grounds for his dismissal.”

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CBS will part ways with its longtime CEO and chairman Leslie Moonves following accusations of sexual misconduct against him.

CNN reports that Moonves’ lawyers and CBS’ board of directors were negotiating a “global settlement” that would cement Moonves’ exit from the network just six weeks after six woman, including Illeana Douglas, accused him of allegations ranging from unwanted kissing and touching to threatening to hinder their careers. The network will announce Mooves’ resignation before the markets open Monday, Reuters reports.

News of Moonves’ decision to step down arrived just hours after The New Yorker, which published Ronan Farrow’s original exposé of sexual misconduct claims against the CBS CEO in late-July, posted a follow-up by Farrow Sunday that included six more women leveling accusations against Moonves.

One of the women claimed that she filed a criminal complaint with the Los Angeles Police Department against Moonves in 2017, accusing him of “physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and of exposing himself to her and violently throwing her against a wall in later incidents.”

Time’s Up said in a statement of the new accusations, “Six more women have made bone-chilling allegations of abuse, harassment and retaliation against Les Moonves. We believe them. These new allegations are in addition to the previous six women who have already bravely  spoken out and detailed horrific behavior from Moonves. Nineteen current and former CBS employees have also alleged that former CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager condoned sexual harassment in his division. These allegations speak to a culture of toxic complicity at CBS, where the safety of women was continuously ignored to protect the careers of powerful men and the corporation. The CBS Board of Directors has an obligation to move swiftly and decisively to create a safe work environment for all and rid the company of this toxic culture.”

Moonves’ exit also followed a report that the CEO was negotiating an exit package with CBS’ board, a deal that was expected to net Moonves nearly $100 million.

CBS Board of Directors previously announced it had hired two separate law firms to investigate the allegations against Moonves as well as appointed a special committee of the board to oversee the investigation. Moonves also recused himself from serving as one of the commissioners for the Anita Hill-helmed Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

Moonves is also accused of sabotaging Janet Jacket’s career after the singer had her infamous “nip slip” on the CBS-broadcasted Super Bowl in 2004.

Moonves said in a statement following the original exposé’s publication, “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.”

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