Saturday 19 January 2019

CBS TV chief steps down as new sex abuse claims emerge

Claims: Leslie Moonves has been accused by 12 different women. Photo: AP
Claims: Leslie Moonves has been accused by 12 different women. Photo: AP

Rachael Alexander in New York

US television giant CBS has announced the immediate departure of CEO Leslie Moonves, one of the biggest scalps in the #MeToo era, following a slew of escalating sexual misconduct allegations.

Mr Moonves, who orchestrated CBS's revival into a ratings winner, had been one of the most respected executives in Hollywood until he was accused in late July of inappropriate behaviour stretching back decades.

Two articles published by the 'New Yorker' magazine - one on Sunday and one on July 27 - detailed allegations from 12 women against the 68-year-old television titan.

On Sunday, CBS announced that Mr Moonves would depart as chairman, president and CEO "effective immediately," and that he and the network would donate $20m (€17m) to supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.

An investigation being conducted by outside law firms into the allegations against Mr Moonves is ongoing, the network said.

Mr Moonves's departure had been on the cards, with US media reporting in recent days that the terms of his departure had been under negotiation for weeks, and a deal had been expected.

Reports had said his severance payment could range from $100m in stock to $180m stipulated in his contract, or even that he could leave with no bonus, pending the results of the investigation.

One of his accusers, Jessica Pallingston, told the Pulitzer-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, who broke the allegations against Mr Moonves in the 'New Yorker', that such a payoff would be "completely disgusting".

Mr Farrow's follow-up article on Sunday contained allegations from six more women, who said Mr Moonves harassed or assaulted them between 1980 and the early 2000s.

Mr Farrow, whose reporting about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein helped spark the #MeToo movement, quotes them as saying that Mr Moonves forced them, at times violently, to perform oral sex on him, or that he exposed himself to them. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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