Representatives of USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism said Wednesday that they will temporarily suspend the name of the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center while Moonves, CBS’ chief executive, is being investigated for allegations of sexual harassment involving his tenure at the network.
The media center was a pledged gift from the couple and CBS in 2015.
“In recognition of the sensitivities surrounding recent allegations against Mr. Moonves, he and Ms. Chen have requested that USC Annenberg temporarily suspend use of the media center’s name until the investigation concludes,” the school said.
Los Angeles County prosecutors declined several months ago to file charges against Moonves, who was accused by an acquaintance of sexual abuse in the 1980s. The District Attorney’s Office cited the expiration of statute of limitations in a charge evaluation worksheet, in which prosecutors declined in February to file a case against Moonves, 68.
The document says the alleged victim encountered Moonves “through employment in the television industry.”
Following a roughly three-hour meeting on Monday, the CBS Corp. Board of Directors announced plans to hire “outside counsel to conduct an investigation” into sexual misconduct allegations made by six women against Moonves.
A statement from CBS reporting on actions taken by the board did not mention Moonves by name. It noted that the board took no other action, meaning Moonves remains in his position as CEO in spite of the allegations detailed Friday in The New Yorker by journalist Ronan Farrow.
Farrow’s report details sexual harassment allegations against Moonves by six women, including actress/writer Illeana Douglas, known for her work on “Six Feet Under” and the films “Cape Fear” and “Goodfellas,” writers Janet Jones and Dinah Kirgo and producer Christine Peters. Four of the women allege forcible touching or kissing during business meetings and two others say he intimidated them or threatened their careers when they refused his advances.
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 issued a statement last Friday vowing to investigate the allegations.
“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” according to the statement. “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.”
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