CBS leaves accused CEO in place, for now

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 31 2018 07:03 AM

FILE PHOTO: Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation speaks at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live conference at the Montage hotel in Laguna Beach, California, US October 21, 2015. Mike Blake, Reuters

NEW YORK - US television giant CBS announced Monday that it would select outside lawyers to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against CEO Leslie Moonves but declined to take further immediate action on his fate.

Moonves, who transformed CBS into a ratings winner after joining the network in 1995, is one of the most powerful American men implicated in the #MeToo era that ignited last year after the career implosion of Harvey Weinstein.

A New Yorker article published Friday revealed allegations from six women who said Leslie Moonves sexually harassed them between the 1980s and late 2000s.

Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, and two said Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.

"CBS Corporation announced today that its board of directors is in the process of selecting outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation," it said in a statement. "No other action was taken on this matter at today's board meeting."

The board also postponed the corporation's annual meeting of stockholders, which had been scheduled for August 10. No new date or location was announced.

Moonves, 68, acknowledged Friday that "decades ago" he "may have made some women uncomfortable... Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely."

But he also denied having ever retaliated by harming anyone's career.

His wife, "Big Brother" show host Julie Chen on CBS has come out publicly in his support, as have several women executives at CBS.

Last week, the board of directors issued a preemptive statement before The New Yorker article was published, saying that upon conclusion of its investigation, it would "promptly review the findings and take appropriate action."