“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” the network chief admitted.
Leslie Moonves, CBS’ longtime CEO and one of Hollywood’s most powerful executives, is accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women over the course of several decades in a bombshell new investigation published by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker on Friday.
On-the-record accusers in the story include actress Illeana Douglas, writer Janet Jones, producer Christine Peters and writer Dinah Kirgo. Others also spoke out about the corporate culture at CBS and CBS News.
“Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that, between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them,” journalist Farrow writes in the story. “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.”
Douglas describes an incident in which Moonves allegedly tried to kiss her and grab her. “What it feels like to have someone hold you down — you can’t breathe, you can’t move,” Douglas told Farrow, recalling an incident in the late 1990s. “The physicality of it was horrendous.” Among others, the actress told Martin Scorsese about the incident, and the director told the magazine that he had heard about the story.
“Real change will occur when victims of sexual assaults are not stigmatized as whistle blowers, or people with some kind of agenda for coming forward. Real change will occur when opportunities to work at companies where assaults have occurred are no longer condoned,” Douglas said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter following the publication of Farrow’s story. “Speaking for myself, real change will occur when I can walk through the front doors of CBS and resume the creative and working relationship that was so tragically cut short in 1997.”
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