Les Moonves was fired on Sunday, September 9, after six more women came forward with claims of sexual harassment or assault against him amid an ongoing investigation against the TV executive.
CBS announced that Moonves would be departing as chairman, president and CEO, effective immediately. Additionally, “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 network said in a statement on Sunday. “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. Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits); any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board evaluation.”
Moonves released a statement late Sunday saying he was “deeply saddened” about his exit. “For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS’ renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company,” he said. “The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed.”
He continued: “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am. Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS. I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.”
His departure came after a new report penned by Ronan Farrow was published by The New Yorker on Sunday. In it, the women detailed the allegations that took place anywhere from the ‘80s through the ‘00s.
One of the women, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, a TV executive who worked with Moonves in the late 1980s, alleged that he had forced her to perform oral sex on him after inviting her to lunch and driving her to a secluded area. She also claimed he later exposed himself to her and threw her against a wall.
After the incidents, Gottlieb alleged that the TV executive retaliated against her professionally by moving her into smaller office spaces. She claimed her career in the industry suffered at large at the hands of Moonves. “He absolutely ruined my career,” she said. “He was the head of CBS. No one was going to take me.”
A report was filed by Golden-Gottlieb last year to the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Though the LAPD told the New Yorker they found her claims credible, no charges were made due to expired statutes of limitations.
A writer named Jessica Pallingston claims she, too, was pressured to perform oral sex on Moonves on her first day of work as his temporary assistant in the ’90s.
Pallingston alleged that Moonves asked her inappropriate questions about her sexual orientation and asked her for a massage before kissing her and asking her to perform oral sex on him.
Pallingston claimed that when she denied future advances by Moonves, he became hostile toward her.
Other women, including freelance makeup artist Deborah Green and junior executive Deborah Morris, told told the publication that they experienced “unwanted kissing or touching” by Moonves.
Both women claim their careers suffered after rebuffing what they alleged were forced advances.
Massage therapist Deborah Kitay also alleged that Moonves exposed himself to her during a massage session in his office and asked her to touch him.
Meanwhile, writer Linda Silverthorn alleged she engaged in sexual encounters with Moonves in the ’90s with the promise of furthering her career.
Moonves spoke out in a statement to the New Yorker regarding the new claims.
“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. 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,” he told the publication. “In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.”
CBS announced they were “selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation,” in the case against Moonves in July, shortly after the New Yorker published reports from the first six women.
Attorney Gloria Allred is representing two accusers who have made allegations against Moonves.