Disgraced former CBS chief Les Moonves won’t be getting his $120 million severance package, the network announced Monday after concluding he violated company policy and failed to “cooperate fully” with an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.
“With regard to Mr. Moonves, we have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of Company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the Company’s investigation,” the network’s board of directors said in a statement. “Mr. Moonves will not receive any severance payment from the Company.”
Moonves’ attorney, Andrew J. Levander, fired back at the decision saying it was “without merit.”
“The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit,” Levander said in a statement. “Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this ‘process’, the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy. Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any non-consensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
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Moonves resigned on Sept. 9 after The New Yorker published two separate articles detailing sexual misconduct allegations against him from a dozen women.
The 69-year-old media mogul denied the allegations, calling them “appalling.” CBS in turn hired two outside law firms to investigate the claims.
On Dec. 4, The New York Times published details of a draft report that investigators prepared for the network’s board.
The NYT article quoted the report as saying Moonves was “evasive and untruthful at times,” and that he “deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”
The report also accused him of engaging in “multiple acts of serious non-consensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace, both before and after he came to CBS in 1995.”
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Investigators also said they received “multiple reports” from CBS staffers who alleged that Moonves had a network employee “on call” to perform oral sex on him.
Moonves is arguably the most powerful Hollywood figure whose career was derailed in the #MeToo era.
The fallen Hollywood executive is married to CBS star Julie Chen, 48, who left daytime show The Talk after the allegations against her husband surfaced. Chen remains as host of the CBS reality series, Celebrity Big Brother, which premieres on Monday, Jan. 21.