Leslie Moonves poised to depart CBS as new sexual assault allegations surface in New Yorker report

Leslie Moonves’ tenure at CBS Corp. is expected to end within the next 24 hours as new allegations of sexual assault and harassment surface in an investigative report by Ronan Farrow.

The report published Sunday by the New Yorker includes allegations against the CBS Corp. chairman-CEO from six women who say they had disturbing encounters with Moonves, with some claims going back to the 1980s through the early 2000s.

Phyliss Golden-Gottlieb, who worked with Moonves at Lorimar Television in the 1980s, alleges that Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on him, among other allegations.

In a statement to the New Yorker, Moonves said some of the encounters described in the story were consensual. Daniel Petrocelli, an attorney for Moonves, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday morning.

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“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS,” Moonves told the New Yorker. “And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.”

The allegations come about six weeks after Farrow published his first New Yorker expose on Moonves on July 27. The report forced CBS’ board of directors to hire two law firms to launch an internal investigation of Moonves’ conduct.

In a statement, CBS cited the ongoing investigation. The company would not comment on Moonves’ status. Multiple sources say the announcement of his departure from the company he has helped lead for 23 years is coming by Monday.

“CBS takes these allegations very seriously. Our Board of Directors is conducting a thorough investigation of these matters, which is ongoing,” CBS said in a statement.

Moonves in recent days has been negotiating an exit agreement with the CBS board, given the pressure created by the initial Farrow report. Reports that the talks have been focused on a severance package of $100 million or more have spurred outrage among many observers. The Time’s Up advocacy group issued a statement on Thursday blasting CBS for considering such a sum in light of the allegations.

Moonves responded to the first story with a statement expressing regret for having “made some women uncomfortable by making advances.” Last month, Moonves hired prominent litigator Daniel Petrocelli to represent him in connection with CBS’ internal probe.

Industry observers were surprised when the CBS board opted to keep Moonves in his post as chairman-CEO while the investigation was conducted.

More to come

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