Les Moonves Steps Down As CEO Of CBS Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves hit with six additional claims of sexual harassment and assault

Leslie Moonves, one of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry, has officially resigned from his position as the chairman and CEO of CBS on Sunday evening, September 9, 2018, CNN reports.

The company says it and Mr Moonves would donate $20m ($28m AUD) to groups supporting the #MeToo movement.

His exit from the network came just hours after an additional six women came forward with serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against him in journalist Ronan Farrow's latest piece for The New Yorker.

"Any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent board evaluation", CBS announced in a statement.

Joseph Ianniello, the current Chief Operating Officer and deputy to Moonves, will serve as interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent leader.

"I definitely think he should resign, and I don't think he should get $100 million to resign", said Linda Silverthorn, who accused Moonves of unwanted sexual advances in the New Yorker article.

In a statement to the magazine, Moonves said the "appalling accusations" are untrue, but he acknowledged consensual relations with three of the women before he started working at CBS. In recent months there has been conflict behind the scenes due to a position held by Shari Redstone, CBS's controlling shareholder, as she has been arguing in favor of merging CBS Corporation with Viacom - also controlled by Redstone. Writer Janet Jones, who alleged that Moonves forcibly kissed her at a work meeting and that she had to shove him away, said Moonves "has gotten away with it for decades".

The latest allegations were not addressed in CBS' announcement of Moonves' exit.

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CBS has negotiated an estimated US$100 million settlement with Moonves, sources said. He did not tell The New Yorker which three he was acknowledging.

For the second time in less than a year, "CBS This Morning" host Norah O'Donnell addressed serial sexual misconduct allegations involving prominent men at her own network.

CNN also reports that Farrow told the network numerous women involved in the allegations have been frustrated with CBS' board's handling of the situation. We believe them. These new allegations are in addition to the previous six women who have already bravely spoken out and detailed horrific behavior from Moonves. Moonves has since remained in his position with CBS.

Moonves, 68, was the CEO of CBS for 15 years and is credited with turning the once-struggling network around to become one of the most-watched in television.

In a statement, CBS cited the ongoing investigation. Some of them also said Moonves retaliated after being rebuffed, damaging their careers.

One accuser, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, filed a criminal complaint with the LAPD past year, the New Yorker reported, detailing allegations of physical violence and forced oral sex by Moonves, which unnamed law enforcement sources told the magazine were credible, though the relevant statutes of limitations had already expired.

Mr Moonves joined CBS in 1995 as head of entertainment, becoming CEO of CBS Corp in 2006.

Similar claims were made previously by six other women against the executive, said sources familiar with the matter on Sunday, asking not to be identified because the plans have not been made public.

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