The women told the magazine that Moonves forcibly touched or kissed them during business meetings. Two of the accusers also told writer Ronan Farrow that Moonves “physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their career.” All of them said they believed their careers suffered after they rejected his advances.
“What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating,” the actress and writer Illeana Douglas told Farrow. All the women also said that they still believed that speaking out about the alleged abuse they endured would lead to retaliation.
Moonves, 68, a powerful figure in the media world, admitted in a statement to the New Yorker that he engaged in bad behavior in the past.
“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said. “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.”
But he also said, “I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.”
The network also confirmed to the magazine that in the 24 years Moonves has worked for CBS, there have been no misconduct claims and no settlements, but the CBS board of directors said in a statement Friday that the claims will “be taken seriously” and that it plans to investigate the allegations, according to The New York Times.
The board said it plans to hire an independent law firm to conduct a review.
“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,” the statement said.
Moonves’ wife, Julie Chen, used social media to show her support for her husband of 14 years.
“Leslie is a good man, a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader,” Chen said on Twitter.
“I fully support my husband and stand behind him and his statement,” she said.