CBS Chief Les Moonves Resigns Amid New Sexual Misconduct Claims

Les Moonves (Credit: Deposit Photo)

Longtime CBS Corporation CEO Leslie Moonves resigned Sunday, hours after The New Yorker published an article detailing sexual misconduct allegations against him from six more women.

Moonves’ exit is effective immediately, CBS News reported.

His departure comes two months after The New Yorker published a July article outlining sexual harassment and assault allegations from six other women.

Moonves, 68, denied those allegations as well as the new claims, calling them “appalling.”

The media mogul, who had run CBS since 2006, was eligible for a severance package of up to $180 million if fired without cause. The money is now being withheld pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegations.

CBS said in a statement Sunday that Moonves will donate $20 million to groups supporting workplace equality and the #MeToo movement.

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Joseph Ianniello, the network’s chief operating officer, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.

Sunday’s New Yorker article, reported by Ronan Farrow, included allegations of sexual assault, physical violence and intimidation.

One woman, a veteran television executive named Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, accused Moonves of “physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.” She also alleged that he exposed himself to her and violently threw her “against a wall.”

Golden-Gottlieb said she filed a police report with the LAPD last year, but because the alleged incidents happened in the 1980s, the statute of limitations had run out.

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Other accusers claimed the mogul tried to derail their careers after they declined his advances.

In a statement to the publication, Moonves said the allegations were false, but acknowledged three of the encounters and said they were consensual.

“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” he said. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS.”

Adding to Moonves’ problems, on Thursday the Huffington Post published a story claiming he targeted Janet Jackson, and was obsessed with ruining her career after the singer’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl. The article said Moonves believed the malfunction was planned and wanted Jackson to pay for embarrassing him.

Meanwhile in his July article, New Yorker reporter Farrow alleged that Moonves had a history of engaging in inappropriate behavior during business meetings, including forcible kissing and groping.

Moonves denied those claim as well.

In response to the July allegations, the CBS board of directors hired two outside law firms to investigate those claims as well as other reports of sexual harassment at CBS and CBS News.

Moonves remained in his position during the investigation.