Les Moonves, the longtime chairman and chief executive of CBS Corp.
, is set to resign Monday, according to multiple reports, following new sexual misconduct allegations against him from six additional women.
In a New Yorker expose published Sunday morning, reporter Ronan Farrow — who first detailed allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Moonves six weeks ago — revealed six more women have accused Moonves of sexual harassment and sexual assault, dating from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Those include claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex without their consent, used physical violence and intimidation, and retaliated against them when his advances were rebuffed.
Just a few hours after that report was published, CNN reported that Moonves will step down as soon as Monday as part of a broader settlement for control of CBS. Moonves and Shari Redstone, the controlling owner of CBS, have been locked in bitter litigation for months.
“CBS takes these allegations very seriously. Our Board of Directors is conducting a thorough investigation of these matters, which is ongoing,” CBS said Sunday in a statement.
CNN reported Moonves could receive a $100 million payout, but that the company may try to “claw back” some of that if its independent investigation finds evidence he committed sexual misconduct.
However, CBS News later reported that Moonves’ exit package may be withheld entirely, pending the results of the investigation.CBS News also reported Moonves is expected to step down Monday.
The Wall Street Journal also reported Moonves will quit Monday, and said he could walk away with nothing if the investigation finds serious misconduct. The Journal also said that either way, a portion of his package would be donated to charities.
In a statement Sunday, Moonves admitted to three of the sexual encounters, but claimed they were consensual. “The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” Moonves said. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations.”
In a statement, Time’s Up, an advocacy group formed by women in Hollywood to oppose inequality, harassment and sexual assault, said: “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.”
CBS shares are down about 5% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s
gain of more than 7%.
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