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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Les Moonves now officially done at CBS as new assault allegations surface

Illustration for article titled Les Moonves now officially done at CBS as new assault allegations surface
Photo: Joe Scarnici (Getty Images for Apple)

[Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.]

According to Variety, CBS head Leslie Moonves is expected to leave the network “within the next 24 hours,” as additional allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him have surfaced in a new report from Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. The first allegations against Moonves surfaced a few months ago, when another Farrow piece detailed the accounts from six women who claimed that Moonves has a habit of setting up meetings with women, ensuring that nobody else would be present, and then making aggressive sexual advances. Some of the women also accused Moonves of actively sabotaging their careers when they rejected his attempts to kiss them or touch them in other unwanted ways. CBS declined to do much of anything beyond launching an investigation into the allegations, meaning Moonves has still been in charge at the network, but there has been talk of him receiving a massive severance package of about $100 million in exchange for stepping down.


Farrow believes the exit is going to happen much quicker now, though, as six more women have accused Moonves of sexual harassment and assault. The allegations include “claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex on him, that he exposed himself to them without their consent, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them.” Some of them also say that Moonves “retaliated after they rebuffed him” by “damaging their careers,” following the pattern set by the previous allegations.

One of the new accusers is Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, a now-retired TV executive who used to work with Moonves at the Lorimar production company. She filed a criminal complaint against Moonves last year, and while the LAPD found her allegations “credible and consistent,” they couldn’t pursue the case by the statute of limitations had passed. She says she Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on him once while driving her to lunch, but she didn’t say anything at the time because she was a single mother and recognized that Moonves was the studio’s “new golden boy.”

She avoided any situations where she’d be alone with Moonves, until one day when he exposed himself to her in his office. She ran out and later “berated her” for not sending a memo to a different executive about something, and when she explained that she didn’t really do that, he allegedly grabbed her and threw her against the wall. After that, he started moving her into progressively smaller offices, apparently just to make things harder for her. While Golden-Gottlieb says she told friends about what happened, she decided to come forward publicly because of the strength of the #MeToo movement.

The other accusers, including writer Jessica Pallingston, makeup artist Deborah Green, Lorimar junior executive Deborah Morris, writer Linda Silverthorn, and a former massage therapist named Deborah Kitay, all have similar stories, typically with Moonves allegedly establishing a legitimate justification for a meeting, exposing himself or forcibly kissing them, and then using his growing influence to undermine them in some way—or physically threaten them—when they try to resist.

Meanwhile, some of Farrow’s sources are questioning the legitimacy of CBS’ investigation into the allegations against Moonves. Apparently, the law firms conducting the investigation have done “a large amount of legal work” for the network,” to the extent that one source says “there’s no way you’d think they’re impartial.” Plus, even if investigators determine that Moonves “committed misconduct” and should be fired, only half of his pay—at most—would be withdrawn. In other words, he still stands to make a bunch of money.

Update: In a press release (via Rolling Stone), Moonves has announced that he is indeed resigning from his position at CBS. On top of that, CBS and Moonves will be donating $20 million from any severance that Moonves may receive to one or more organizations that support #MeToo or workplace equality, and Moonves will not receive any addition severance pay until investigations into the allegations against him are completed.