CBS CEO Les Moonves will step down on Monday amid more allegations of sexual harassment, the company announced Sunday evening.
Under terms of the settlement, Moonves will leave his posts – which include chairman and president of the company – immediately and will be replaced by CBS COO Joseph Ianniello, who will serve as president and acting CEO until a permanent successor is found. The chairman position will remain open pending the appointment of the new chief executive, CBS said.
Despite the additional accusations, detailed in a story by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker on Sunday, he is expected to depart with a generous exit package, valued perhaps as much as $100 million, according to reports.
Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million immediately to “one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace,” a sum which has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due to Moonves at the conclusion of the board’s independent investigation into the allegations.
Farrow, who was first to report the allegations in The New Yorker in late July, published a second piece on Sunday detailing more claims of misconduct. Six more women – in addition to six others that came forward in Farrow’s first piece – accuse Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents between the 1980s and into the first decade of the 2000s.
The additional allegations include the CBS executive of forcing the women to perform oral sex on him, that he used physical violence and intimidation against them, as well as exposing himself to the women without their consent, according to Farrow’s article. Some women said Moonves damaged their careers by retaliating against them if they rebuffed his advances, Farrow reported.
With Moonves departing CBS, the future of the company was thought to be in jeopardy, particularly as to whether it would merge with sister company Viacom. Moonves feuded with Shari Redstone, who through her father Sumner’s holding company National Amusements, own the majority of voting shares in CBS and Viacom, to keep the two companies separate. However, under the settlement announced Sunday, National Amusements confirmed it doesn’t plan to propose a merger, and agreed it will not create a proposal for at least two years after the date of the settlement.
A former senior CBS official told FOX Business in July, just after Farrow’s first article about the allegations was published, that Moonves was likely to be replaced due to the seriousness of the accusations, but noted that internal candidates are “weak.”
CBS shares have lost about 5 percent year-to-date.
FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino contributed to this report