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CBS reportedly knew that Les Moonves had been investigated for sexual assault

Moonves has been accused of harassed or assaulting six women between the 1980s and early 2000s.

by Carter Sherman
Aug 2 2018, 11:00am

Members of the CBS board knew for months that CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Les Moonves had been the focus of a Los Angeles Police Department sex assault investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. Moonves has been accused of harassed or assaulting six women between the 1980s and early 2000s, allegations publicly detailed for the first time in an article published last week by the New Yorker.

Moonves told the board about the probe, which began late last year and ended in February 2018, two sources with knowledge of the situation told the Los Angeles Times. No charges were filed, and an outside firm hired by CBS to look into the issue reportedly found that “no further investigation was warranted.”

The board also opted not to suspend Moonves after a meeting on Monday. Instead, Moonves will stay in his position as two outside law firms examine the new accusations, the CBS board announced Wednesday. The firms will also look into allegations in the New Yorker story that CBS and CBS News company culture allowed abusive behavior to flourish.

"Mr. Moonves will have no role in the investigation and is entirely recused from it,” the board members said in a joint statement. “The board took no further action at this meeting pending discussion with counsel as to appropriate next steps."

Ronan Farrow, the author of the New Yorker story, said the woman whose accusation triggered the LAPD investigation was not one of the six he featured. NBC first reported her existence — and the existence of the investigation itself — on Tuesday.

The woman told LAPD officers that she’d worked with Moonves in the ‘80s on shows like “Dallas,” according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1986, the woman reportedly said, Moonves demanded during a meeting in that she have oral sex with him. Then, in 1988, the woman said that Moonves exposed himself and assaulted her.

Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to pursue charges because the statute of limitations had expired, NBC reported.

The CBS board members knew that prosecutors had decided not to move forward, according to the Los Angeles Times, though it’s unclear when exactly they found out about the investigation itself. It is possible that not every board member knew about the probe, one source told the Los Angeles Times.

“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely,” Moonves told the New Yorker in a statement. “But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”

Cover image: SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 13: Leslie 'Les' Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corporation, attends the third day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.