Les Moonves attends the 2017 American Songbook Gala at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
A Los Angeles Police Department captain helped former CBS chief executive Les Moonves cover up multiple allegations of sexual assault, an explosive report from the New York attorney general alleged Wednesday.Attorney General Letitia James released the report, which was compiled after an investigation by her office, as part of an announcement that she had secured a $30.5 million settlement with CBS and Moonves. CBS will shoulder the bulk of that payout, with Moonves handing over $2.5 million; in total, CBS shareholders will receive $24 million.
“As a publicly traded company, CBS failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors,” James said in a statement, the Associated Press reported. “After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, today CBS and Leslie Moonves are paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing.”In November 2017, as the #MeToo movement was sweeping across the country and media companies were ousting problematic executives, CBS and Moonves learned that he was likely in trouble, according to the report. On Nov. 17, the very same day that a woman walked into a LAPD station and reported that Moonves had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, an LAPD captain called an executive at CBS, the report alleges.“Somebody walked in the station about a couple hours ago and made allegations against your boss regarding a sexual assault,” the captain allegedly said in a voicemail. “It’s confidential, as you know, but call me, and I can give you some of the details and let you know what the allegation is before it goes to the media or gets out.”The captain isn’t named in James’ report, but the LAPD identified the captain as Cory Palka, who retired last year, the Associated Press reported. Palka didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from the AP.
Moonves had been a key figure in entertainment for decades, and was credited with keeping CBS competitive amid a rapidly shifting media environment as he oversaw hit shows like The Big Bang Theory and legacy staples like 60 Minutes. In financial records from 2017 and 2018, CBS acknowledged that losing Moonves would likely lead to “adverse financial consequences,” the New York attorney general’s report alleges.The voicemail immediately sent CBS into crisis mode, according to the report. The LAPD captain also allegedly handed over the accuser’s unredacted police report, allowing CBS to investigate her. In one text message, the report reads, a CBS staffer “circulated a public records search containing the name, address, and telephone number of Complainant #1’s son. The body of the message read: ‘Need to research if neighborhood gives clues to need for $.’”The LAPD captain also allegedly had another police officer call up the accuser and “admonish” her against speaking to the press as CBS tried to protect Moonves and the company’s bottom line. The captain also allegedly assured CBS that no other accusers had come forward, and met with Moonves to discuss the ongoing investigation.The complaint wasn’t Moonves’ only problem. Another sexual misconduct accusation was, at the time, on the verge of becoming public, and other journalists were looking into allegations against Moonves, according to the report. As other CBS executives realized that they were potentially going to have to fire a man who had made them so much money, one executive sold about $8 million worth of CBS stock—with the company’s permission, the report alleges.
In July 2018, the dam broke, and news outlets started publishing stories detailing sexual misconduct accusations against Moonves. Moonves has denied the allegations.“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” CBS’ board said in a statement at the time. The board promised to investigate. “Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”By September, Moonves was out of a job. “Today’s resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS — and transforming it for the future,” CBS’ majority stakeholder, Shari Redstone, said in a statement at the time.“I’m deeply sorry that this has happened,” the LAPD captain allegedly told Moonves. “I will always stand with, by and pledge my allegiance to you. You have embodied leadership, class and the highest of character through all of this.”Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.