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CBS investigates allegations of sexual harassment by CEO Leslie Moonves



CBS
Corp.


CBS -6.13%

said it would investigate allegations of sexual harassment by the chief executive

Leslie Moonves,

putting him at the same time on the hot seat, he is trapped in a lawsuit with the controlling shareholder of the media company.

The charges appeared in a New York article released Friday. It reported that six women who had professional business with Mr. Moonves between the 1980s and the late 2000s claimed he had sexually harassed them.

An actress and writer,

Illeana Douglas,

alleged that Mr. Moonves had sexually assaulted her at a 1

997 meeting in his office, holding her down on a couch and kissing her violently. The article also cites allegations that Mr. Moonves made progress in the economy, including unwanted exposure.

The article painted a picture of systemic annoyance issues in CBS and a culture that tolerates it.

The company said in a statement that it "takes every message of misconduct very seriously". However, we do not believe that the image of the New York-based company is a larger organization that does its best to treat tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect. "CBS shares fell more than 6% on Friday.

Mr. Moonves said in a statement that he realized" decades ago there were times when I could make some women uncomfortable by making progress , These were mistakes and I deeply regret them. But I've always understood and respected – and kept to the principle – that "no" means "no," and I've never used my position to damage or hinder anyone's career.

In a statement on Friday evening, Ms. Douglas said, "A real change will come when I can go through the front doors of CBS and resume the creative and working relationship that was tragically broken off in 1997."

A group of CBS directors said that after the investigation was completed, the Board would do so "The results should be reviewed promptly and action taken."

The investigation is taking place at a sensitive time for CBS dealing with National Amusements Inc., a holding company with nearly 80% of the voting shares in CBS and

Viacom
Inc.

National Amusements President

Shari Redstone

Despite the opposition of Mr. Moonves and his management team, he has brought them together.

CBS said in a statement that the "timing of this report is in the midst of the company's very public litigation."

A spokeswoman for Ms. Redstone, CBS's deputy chairperson, said in a statement that "the malicious suggestion that Mrs. Redstone is somehow behind the allegations of Mr. Moonves' inappropriate personal conduct or today's reports is false and self-serving Mrs. Redstone hopes the investigation of these allegations will be thorough, open and transparent. "

CBS directors have issued a dividend earlier this year that would reduce National Amusements' voting rights to below 20%, but National Amusements has taken steps block the measure by changing the Company's Articles of Association to require the approval of a majority of directors in such situations. The fight will take place at a court in Delaware, and is expected to go to court in the fall.

Rumors that Mr. Moonves was about to become the latest media figure to be accused of sexual abuse began circulating last winter. Ms. Redstone began discussing rumors with CBS board members in December, but received no indication that any action had been taken, the persons in charge said. "This indicates whether the board has proper oversight," said one person familiar with their thoughts and reiterated the charges she had made in legal submissions in the court battle with CBS.

CBS & # 39; s board is seeking a law firm to lead the probe, said another person who was familiar with the situation.

Friday New York story written by

Ronan Farrow,

also accuses CBS News Leader

Jeff Fager

from inappropriate behavior and from one eye to the allegations of harassment within the department blindly. Mr. Fager leads the news magazine "60 Minutes" and used to be chairman of CBS News.

In particular, the New Yorker said that Mr. Fager was reputed to be "really handy," as quoted by a former "60 Minutes" producer in the story. The story also said Mr. Fager protected other men accused of misconduct.

Mr. Fager dismissed the allegations to the New Yorker. Asked for a comment, CBS News referred to Mr. Fager's denials in the story.

CBS on Friday said it previously retained a lawyer

Betsy Plevan

by Proskauer Rose LLP to conduct an independent investigation of alleged misconduct in CBS News. It was said that the probe was ongoing and included investigations into New York history.

Christine Peters,

a producer who described to the New Yorker a meeting in which Mr. Moonves held his hand up her skirt said that she decided to help other professional women. CBS told the New Yorker that Mr. Moonves denies any inappropriate touch or behavior during the meeting.

"I mean, look, it's not just actresses, it's women in the corporate world who have to deal with them," said Ms. Peters in an interview.

Mr. Moonves, who has been CEO since 2006, was praised for his skills in the entertainment industry and on Wall Street. During his tenure, CBS was generally the most watched channel in the industry, even though, like most broadcasters, he fought against the erosion of television viewers. He has slimmed down the company in recent years to focus more on content production and distribution by mining the CBS radio and billboard units (19659005). Moonves began his acting career as an actor before moving to production. He rose to the top of Warner Bros. Television; Shows developed on his watch there included "Friends" and "ER".

CBS hired Mr. Moonves in 1995, reversing his stunning head-time lineup, and he rose the ranks. Mr. Moonves is known for being very involved in programming and casting decisions on the network and on his pay-TV channel Showtime.

Mr. Moonves is married to CBS's on-air personality

Julie Chen

since 2004.

Mr. Moonves is the second prominent CBS personality to be confronted with inappropriate behavior.

Charlie Rose

was fired as an anchor on "CBS This Morning" last year, after allegations surfaced in Washington Post articles that he made improper progress toward women who worked for him.

Mr. Rose said on Twitter after the Post reported that he was "sometimes insensitive," but also said he did not think all the allegations were correct. A lawyer for Mr. Rose called the allegations in the lawsuit without merit.

Write to Joe Flint at [email protected] and Keach Hagey at [email protected]


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