CBS Executive Accused of Sexual Harassment

Les Moonves at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone.

The New Yorker — On Friday it was reported that powerful veteran television executive, the Chairman and CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, sexually harassed six women.

Each woman had professional dealings with Moonves, four described “forcible touching or kissing.” Two said that Moonves, “physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers.” All six told Ronan Farrow, who spent eight months investigating the claims, that Moonves, “became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”

Actress and Writer Illeana Douglas told Farrow that what happened to her was, “sexual assault,” Douglas alleges that in 1996, Moonves, after a cast script read through, alone in his office, he “violently kissed her,” shortly afterward Douglas says she was “fired for not participating.”

In a statement from CBS, Moonves, remembers trying to kiss Douglas, but denies the “characterization of sexual assault,” and denies that Douglas was fired as a result of turning down his advances.

Janet Jones a writer told Farrow that in 1985, pitching her first screenplay, Moonves “came around the corner of the table and threw himself on top of me,” she was sitting on the couch at the time, “it was very fast,” Jones said Moonves tired to kiss her. Jones pushed him away yelling, “what do you think you are doing?” Jones says Moonves appeared startled got up and said, “I wanted a kiss,” adding according to Jones, Moonves said, “oh come on, it’s nothing.” Shortly after the incident Jones says that Moonves called her and threatened her, ” ‘People’s reputations are important. Do you understand? she remembered him saying. ” ‘I’m warning you. I will ruin your career. You will never get a writing job. No one will hire you. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?’ ” Jones told Farrow that she found the threats more scarring than the original incident.

CBS told The New Yorker that Moonves has “no recollection of the interactions with Jones”

Producer Christine Peters recalls an incident that occurred in 2006, having known Moonves for a few years prior, even having several dinners with he and his wife in 2003 and 2004. She alleges that during a business meeting in his office while she was sitting on the couch, he put his hand up her skirt, slid his hand up her thigh and touched her underwear.

Moonves through CBS, “categorically denies any alleged touching or inappropriate conduct during the meeting.”

One actress who was not named claims that in 1995, after having known Moonves for years, during a lunch to talk about a series contract, states that Moonves forcibly kissed her, when she leaned over to give him a kiss on the cheek, “he shoved his tongue down my throat. I mean shoved.” The actress never worked for CBS again.

Moonves through CBS said he has no recollection of making the unwelcome advances to the actress, and that he made no “efforts to block future business between her and CBS.”

Two women, writer Dinah Kirgo and a former child star who was not named, both say they turned him down, neither claim he made physical passes, but both state, after his dinner invitation was turned down by Kirgo and after the former child star told Moonves, she wouldn’t sleep with him because she was married and had a child, Moonves became angry, and neither deals the women were working toward came to pass.

Moonves through CBS, doesn’t recall meeting Kirgo, nor inviting her to dinner. Moonves also doesn’t recall meeting with the former child star.

Each named and unnamed woman go into great detail of each event to Farrow. Thirty current and former CBS employees described to Farrow, “harassment, gender discrimination, or retaliation at the network.”

According to Farrow these employees also told him that several men accused of “misconduct, were promoted,” the promotions came even after the company was made aware of those allegations.

Leslie Moonves issued a statement saying in part, “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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

Moonves is married to CBS new personality and host of the reality show Big Bother, Julie Chen, who offered a statement via twitter

Ronan Farrow spoke to the AP about the length of the investigation into the allegations against Moonves

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