Facing multiple sexual misconduct allegations and fearing his career as an entertainment titan was over, Leslie Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, destroyed evidence and misled investigators in an attempt to preserve his reputation and save a lucrative severance deal, according to a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board.
The report, by lawyers hired by the network, says the company has justification to deny Mr. Moonves his $120 million severance. Mr. Moonves reigned as one of Hollywood’s most successful and celebrated executives for decades before being forced to step downin September after allegations by numerous women.
The report, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, says Mr. Moonves “engaged in multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace, both before and after he came to CBS in 1995.” The report includes previously undisclosed allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
The lawyers who conducted the inquiry wrote that they had spoken with Mr. Moonves four times and found him to be “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”
Mr. Moonves shaped the television landscape for more than 30 years. Even before his CBS tenure, he had an outsize role in producing shows like the 1980s sitcom “Full House” and the 1990s megahits “ER” and “Friends.” At CBS, he turned around a moribund network with audience-friendly smashes like “Survivor,” the police procedural “C.S.I.” and its multiple spinoffs, and sitcoms like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Big Bang Theory.” For the past decade, CBS has been the most-watched network.
“A culture where this behavior could have gone unchecked for so long with so much knowledge is really troubling,” said Charles M. Elson, an expert on corporate governance at the University of Delaware. “This is a disaster for CBS shareholders. There’s been no other #MeToo incident with this kind of negative impact” on a major American company.
A report by lawyers for CBS found that the network would be justified in denying former CEO Les Moonves a $120 million severance payout because he destroyed evidence and misled investigators looking into accusations of sexual misconduct, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing a draft of a report prepared for the company’s board.
According to the Times, the report said Moonves “engaged in multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace, both before and after he came to CBS in 1995.”