Les Moonves misconduct report: CBS has grounds to deny $120M severance, lawyers say

Leslie Moonves, the former CBS chairman and CEO, stands accused of obstructing an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct during his time at the company, according to a report Tuesday.

Two outside law firms tapped by CBS to investigate Moonves’ conduct determined his behavior violated his employment agreement, giving the company grounds to withhold a $120 million severance packaged stipulated in his contract, The New York Times reported. In addition to detailing Moonves’ alleged misdeeds, the report said Moonves “deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”

“Based on the facts developed to date, we believe that the board would have multiple bases upon which to conclude that the company was entitled to terminate Moonves for cause,” the report said.

The report detailed various instances of Moonves’ sexual misconduct at CBS. He is alleged to have engaged in “transactional” relationships with at least four CBS employees. Investigators interviewed 11 of 17 women who had accused Moonves of misconduct and found their allegations to be credible. The report also included allegations that a CBS employee was “on call” to engage in sexual relations with Moonves, and that a current CBS board member was aware of at least one allegation of sexual assault against Moonves.

CBS declined to comment. CBS’ board of directors is expected to make a determination on whether to pay out the severance package.

Moonves’ attorney did not immediately return a request for comment. However, he denied the allegations in a statement to the Times.

“Mr. Moonves vehemently denies having any non-consensual sexual relations,” the attorney said in a statement. “He never put or kept someone on the payroll for the purpose of sex. He has cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Moonves stepped down as CBS chairman last September after a report by The New Yorker detailed allegations by six women against him.