A report on the investigation into former CBS CEO Les Moonves recommends that the executive, accused of harassing and sexually assaulting multiple women over the course of his career, should not receive $120 million in severance payments because he can be dismissed “for cause.”
According to an article in the New York Times, lawyers hired by the CBS board found that Moonves destroyed evidence and misled investigators.
The report includes allegations not yet reported publicly, the paper says. The investigators from two law firms talked to 11 of the 17 women they knew had made accusations against Moonves. The report said that Moonves received oral sex from at least four CBS employees in improper circumstances.
The report found that Moonves' sexual misbehavior appeared to have halted after he married Julie Chen in 2004.
The CBS board is expected to get the 59-page report next week before the company’s annual meeting.
According to the report to the board, the lawyers spoke with Moonves four times and found him to be “evasive and untruthful at time[s] and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”
Moonves was forced to step down from his powerful post at the head of the company in September. In addition to the sexual harassment charges, Moonves was resisting efforts by the CBS’s controlling shareholder, the family of media mogul Sumner Redstone, to combine CBS with Viacom, another media company controlled by the Redstones.
Moonves and the CBS board attempted to dilute the Redstones’ voting rights, which resulted in a lawsuit. The suit was settled when Moonves was forced out.
As part of his agreement to leave, CBS agreed to pay money to #MeToo related causes. It also said that Moonves would receive the $120 million in severance payments his contract called for unless it was determined that he had been dismissed for cause.
“Based on the facts developed to date, we believe that the board would have multiple bases upon which to conclude that the company was entitled to terminate Moonves for cause,” the report says, according to the paper.
Andrew J. Levander, Moonves' lawyer, told the Times that Moonves “denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation” and “cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
The report said that some CBS board members and executives were aware of Moonves’ behavior.
The Times said the report it obtained a copy of was written in November and could be changed before it is handed to the board.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.