CBS officials vowed Friday to investigate sexual misconduct allegations made by six women against CEO Les Moonves, but his position at the company remains unchanged.
“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” according to a statement issued by the CBS Board of Directors. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”
In an article by journalist Ronan Farrow published Friday by The New Yorker, six women accuse Moonves of sexual harassment, with four alleging forcible touching or kissing during business meetings and two others saying he intimidated them or threatened their careers when they refused his advances.
Among the accusers are actress/writer Illeana Douglas, known for her work on “Six Feet Under” and the films “Cape Fear” and “Goodfellas.” Other accusers include writers Janet Jones and Dinah Kirgo and producer Christine Peters.
In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves said, “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,” he said. “This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how to help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”
CBS officials told the publication there have been no misconduct claims or settlements against Moonves during his 24 years at the network.
In its statement issued Friday, the CBS board noted that the allegations arise during a “very public legal dispute” between CBS and Viacom over a proposal — championed by CBS and Viacom shareholder Shari Redstone — to merge the companies. Moonves opposes such a move.
“While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members,” according to the board’s statement. “Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners.”
A representative for Shari Redstone issued a statement saying, “The malicious insinuation that Ms. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of inappropriate personal behavior by Mr. Moonves or today’s reports is false and self-serving. Ms. Redstone hopes that the investigation of these allegations is thorough, open and transparent.”
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