Six women accuse CBS CEO Leslie Moonves of sexual misconduct in New Yorker report

CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves has been accused of sexual misconduct by six women, including actress Illeana Douglas, who asserts that Moonves had her fired from a comedy pilot after she rebuffed his forceful advances. The accusations were leveled in a report published Friday by investigative reporter Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker.

Douglas’ allegation stems from her work in 1996 on the pilot for “Queens.” Douglas described a meeting with Moonves in which he held her down on a couch and kissed her without her consent.

“At that point, you’re a trapped animal,” Douglas told the New Yorker. “Your life is flashing before your eyes.”

In a statement to the New Yorker, Moonves said acknowledged some past transgressions, but he disputed some other accounts in the story.

"Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” Moonves said. “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.”

The CBS Corp. chairman-CEO is one of the most powerful and influential figures in the entertainment industry. Moonves is highly regarded as one of the most successful programmers in TV history for leading CBS’ rebirth in the mid-1990s and keeping the mothership CBS broadcast network as the nation’s most-watched network overall for 15 of the past 16 television seasons.

Even before the story was published, CBS’ board of directors issued a statement acknowledging the allegations and announcing plans to mount an investigation. CBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone also issued a statement calling for a “thorough, open, and transparent” investigation of Moonves by the board. Redstone and Moonves are in the midst of a legal battle for control of CBS Corp.