Leslie-Moonves

By Vanessa Obioha with agency reports

A new story in The New Yorker accused the longtime CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, of sexually harassing several women. The writer Ronan Farrow claimed that six women who have had professional relationships with Moonves opened up on how the helmsman at the TV network sexually misbehaved towards them over several decades.

“Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”

The women accusing Moonves include actress include Illeana Douglas who revealed that Moonves allegedly tried to kiss her and grab her at one incident in the late 1990s. “What it feels like to have someone hold you down—you can’t breathe, you can’t move. The physicality of it was horrendous.”

For writer Janet Jones, Moonves bring back ugly memories. She remembers a scenario in 1985 where Moonves forcefully threw himself at her and demanded for a kiss.

In a statement given to The New Yorker, 68 year-old Moonves said: “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company.

I recognise 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. 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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

However, his employer, CBS says it is currently investigating claims against its chief executive officer. “All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” the network said in a Friday statement. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. 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.”

Until now, Moonves has had a scandal-free reputation. Perhaps, this will be his biggest challenge  with the accusations coming just three months after a group that he was part of created the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which is chaired by Anita Hill. He joined the CBS family in 1995 as president of CBS Entertainment, was named CEO of CBS Television in 1998 and became chairman and CEO of the parent company five years later.

Other accusers of Moonves include Christine Peters and Dinah Kirgo.