CBS negotiates exit with CEO Leslie Moonves amid new sexual harassment claims

CBS is expected to announce on Monday that Chief Executive Leslie Moonves is resigning, said sources on Sunday, as six additional women came forward with allegations of sexual impropriety against him.

CBS also has reached a deal to settle litigation over the control of the company with its controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements Inc. with details expected to be announced as early as before the markets open on Monday, sources familiar with the discussions said.

CBS and National Amusements declined to comment.

CBS has negotiated an estimated $100-million US settlement with Moonves, sources said, asking not to be identified because the plans have not been made public. CBS will donate a portion of that settlement to an unnamed charity and the company reserves the right to claw back all of the remaining payment pending the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment, sources familiar with these discussions said.

The investigation, which is being conducted by two outside law firms, continues.

News of the deals emerged the same day The New Yorker published fresh claims from six additional women who allege Moonves exposed himself and used physical violence and intimidation. 

The New Yorker story says the incidents, which the women said took place between the 1980s and early 2000s, also included claims of forced sex. All six of the women were named. Reuters could not immediately reach them for comment.

Moonves, 68, who joined CBS in 1995 and became CEO in 2006, could not immediately be reached to comment on Sunday after the latest claims. In a statement to the magazine, he acknowledged three of the encounters, but said they were consensual.

‘A concerted effort by others to destroy my name’

“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” Moonves told The New Yorker. “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. 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.”

Moonves denied the allegations, telling the magazine: ‘The appalling accusations in this article are untrue.’ (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
CBS said on Sunday that it takes such allegations very seriously.

“The CBS board of directors is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, and that  investigation is actively underway,” the media company’s board said in a statement.
  
The New Yorker reported on Sunday that the additional six women said Moonves also retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers.
 
In August, CBS hired two law firms to investigate allegations of sexual assault and unwanted advances following a New Yorker report that featured claims against Moonves from six women spanning different periods over two decades, from 1985 to 2006.

Also reported on Weinstein case

Following the New Yorker report in August, Moonves said he regretted “immensely” making some women uncomfortable by making advances, but added that he abided by the principle that “no” means “no,” and stated he had never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.

The author of the New Yorker articles, Ronan Farrow, previously has written reports that contributed to the resignation of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein from his film and TV studio following accusations of sexual misconduct.
 
Weinstein has denied the accusations, but his downfall helped spawn the #MeToo movement that has forced the resignation of powerful men in Hollywood, corporate America and politics.

CBS’s board has been in talks with Moonves to negotiate his exit, a source familiar with the matter previously told Reuters. 

Those talks are occurring as CBS and Redstone and National Amusements were also hammering out a settlement to a legal dispute over control of CBS.



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