Disgraced CBS Boss Les Moonves Destroyed Evidence in Failed Sexual Misconduct Cover-Up Scheme

Les Moonves Faces Sexual Misconduct Allegations Leslie Moonves arriving for The 31st Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center Hall of States in Washington, D.C. December 7, 2008 Credit: Walter McBride/MediaPunch /IPX
Walter McBride/MediaPunch /IPX

Disgraced CBS chief executive Les Moonves destroyed scores of evidence and lied to investigators conducting a probe into multiple allegations against him, ranging from sexual harassment to rape.

Les 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,” says a report, according to the New York Times. The 59-page report, prepared by outside lawyers hired by CBS, said Moonves was “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”

Moonves — who joined CBS in 1995 and helped make it America’s most watch network, helping to shepherd hit TV shows like Survivor, How I Met Your Mother, and Big Bang Theory — was first accused in July of sexual misconduct by six women, dating back two decades. He denied the allegations. The Los Angeles prosecutors refused to charge the longtime television titan for sex abuse crimes for alleged assaults, one in 1986 and two more from 1988. But accusers continued to come forward.

Head of Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein (L) and CBS Entertainment president Les Moonves attend a celebration of network television by the William Morris Agency at MoMA on May 12, 2008 in New York City. (Scott Wintrow/Getty Images)

CBS Corporation President/CEO Leslie Moonves (L) and journalist Charlie Rose (R) attend the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s “A Conversation with Leslie Moonves” Newsmaker Luncheon at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on September 12, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (David Livingston/Getty Images)

Moonves, whose $69 million annual compensation, stocks, and other benefits totaled over a $1 billion, faced a new round of accusations, this time from six more women who told The New Yorker that Moonves forced them into nonconsensual sexual situations and retaliated when they refused his advances.
By September, the CBS board of directors was planning to offer Moonves north of $100 million in an exit package.

CNBC reported at the time:

CBS‘ board of directors is near completion of a settlement that would both end its litigation with its controlling shareholder National Amusements — and sever ties with long time CEO Leslie Moonves, according to people familiar with the situation.

The prospect of Moonves walking away with millions enraged the masses, many of them emboldened by the MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement. CBS hired two law firms to conduct an investigation into the allegations against its network head.

“Based on the facts developed to date, we believe that the board would have multiple bases upon which to conclude that the company was entitled to terminate Moonves for cause,” the report says, indicating that Moonves could be terminated without receiving a dime in compensation.

Among the more disturbing findings from the report, in which investigators spoke with 11 of the 17 known women who’ve accused Moonves of unwanted sexual advances, is the claim that Moonves “received oral sex from at least 4 CBS employees under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity (especially given what we know about his history of more or less forced oral sex with women with whom he has no ongoing relationship).”

“A number of employees were aware of this and believed that the woman was protected from discipline or termination as a result of it,” the report says. “Moonves admitted to receiving oral sex from the woman, his subordinate, in his office, but described it as consensual.”

Moonves’ alleged victims include actresses Bobbie Phillip and Eva LaRue.

Les Moonves married long-time CBS fixture Julie Chen in 2004. Chen is currently host of the long-running primetime CBS show Big Brother.

Moonves’s lawyer, Andrew J. Levander, said his client “denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation” and “cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson

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