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Leslie Moonves & Wife Julie Chen Respond To His Sexual Misconduct Allegations

29 July 2018

USA broadcasting and media company CBS Corp CBS.N said on Friday it was investigating allegations of personal misconduct by its chief executive Leslie Moonves ahead of an upcoming New Yorker article that is expected to detail the claims. Independent of the alleged Moonves misconduct story, Moonves is now embroiled in a major battle over control of the company with the CBS vice-chair Shari Redstone, which has divided the board.

Politico noted that the report of Moonves' misconduct was rumored for months, causing the company's stock to tumble on Friday even before the article was published. CBS has already stated that the network will be investigating these claims.

The exposé is by Ronan Farrow, who this year won a Pulitzer Prize for detailing assault accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Farrow speaks to six women who describe instances where the CBS CEO sexually harassed them, four of whom describe what seemed to be a "practiced routine" of forced touching and kissing in the workplace.

"All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously", CBS' independent directors said in the statement.

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In the article, Moonves acknowledged there were times decades ago when he may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances, but said he never used his position to harm anyone's career. "Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely", Moonves said in a statement.

Mr Moonves is the latest media giant to become embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations since the downfall of Weinstein in October triggered the #metoo social media movement.

As chairman, Moonves oversees all operations of the company, which include the CBS Television Network, premium cable service Showtime and the Simon & Schuster publishing company.

FILE PHOTO: CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves arrives at the premiere of CBS Film's "Extraordinary Measures" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, January 19, 2010. "I was sort of in shock and I said, 'Well, Leslie, I don't think your wife would appreciate us having that kind of dinner.'" Moonves claims to have no recollection of the incident, CBS told Farrow.

In December, Moonves joined a meeting of chief executives of almost every major Hollywood studio, TV network and record label to establish a commission to comb sexual misconduct in the industry. Farrow details numerous allegations that have emerged against the men of CBS in the past year: sexual harassment allegations against Brad Kern, producer of NCIS: New Orleans, a lawsuit against an executive director at CBS Evening News who encouraged a staffer to have sex with a coworker, and of course, the many allegations against network star Charlie Rose.

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CBS resisted a deal, and later took Shari Redstone to court to dilute her controlling stake in the company. CBS said its current "management team has the full support of the independent board members" in the ongoing litigation involving National Amusements. Forbes estimates Moonves' net worth at $700 million and calls him one of the highest paid CEOs in the United States.

Viacom shares jumped 5 percent to $29.35 on Friday, while CBS shares fell more than 6 percent to $54.01, as investors speculated that the chances of a merger had increased. He made $68.4 million past year, behind only chip maker Broadcom's CEO.

He joined CBS in 1995 from Warner Bros. Television earlier in his career, and was instrumental in shows such as Friends reaching the air.

Moonves has been married to CBS news anchor and presenter Julie Chen since 2004.

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Leslie Moonves & Wife Julie Chen Respond To His Sexual Misconduct Allegations