#MeToo claims scalp of CBS head

| Agence France-Presse 11 Sep 2018

US television giant CBS has announced the immediate departure of powerful chief executive officer Leslie Moonves, one of the biggest scalps in the #MeToo era, following a slew of escalating sexual misconduct allegations.

Moonves, who transformed the corporation into the most watched television network in the nation, was one of the most respected executives in Hollywood until he was first publicly accused.

Two articles published by The New Yorker - on July 27 and on Sunday - detailed allegations against the 68-year-old television titan from 12 different women.

CBS subsequently declared he would depart as chairman, president and CEO "effective immediately," and that he and the network would donate US$20 million (HK$156 million) to supporting the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.

The New Yorker published allegations from women who said Moonves sexually harassed or assaulted them between 1980 and the early 2000s. They included claims Moonves forced them into perform oral sex, exposed himself to them, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them. Some of them also said Moonves retaliated after being rebuffed, damaging their careers.

TV executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb filed a criminal complaint last year with Los Angeles police. The New Yorker said while police found her allegations "credible," the alleged incidents occurred too long ago to prosecute. Moonves told the magazine that three of the encounters were consensual.

"I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women," he said. "In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation and my career."

Moonves's departure had been widely expected, with US media reporting the terms of his exit had been under negotiation for weeks.

At least one report had suggested he could get a golden handshake of US$100 million in stock.

One accuser, Jessica Pallingston, told Pulitzer-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, who broke the allegations against Moonves in The New Yorker, that such a payoff would be "completely disgusting."

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