Brow Beat

Les Moonves Steps Down From Commission Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Leslie Moonves sits, smiling, with his hands folded.
Leslie Moonves.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Leslie Moonves, the president and CEO of the CBS Corporation, has stepped down from the entertainment industry’s Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. That’s not too surprising, given that Moonves is currently under investigation for allegedly sexually harassing women in the workplace and, as a result, possibly hindering equality in the entertainment industry.

Moonves was among the many prominent industry figures to attend the formative meeting of the anti-harassment commission when it was first announced in December 2017, including Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and the Recording Academy’s Neil Portnow. The organization’s goal, according to chairperson Anita Hill, is to “adopt best practices and to create institutional change that fosters a culture of respect and human dignity throughout the industry.” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy was a key player in the commission’s formation.

CBS revealed on Wednesday that it will bring in two outside law firms to investigate Moonves following a New Yorker piece in which six women accused him specifically of sexual misconduct, with several others describing a larger “toxic” workplace culture at the network. Moonves has acknowledged that “there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances.” However, he denies some of the specific accusations in the story, including “any characterization of ‘sexual assault,’ intimidation, or retaliatory action.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that, according to two anonymous sources, the CBS board was already aware of the allegations against Moonves months before the New Yorker story broke, due to a police investigation. Prosecutors ultimately did not pursue charges in the case because the alleged incidents, “battery and indecent exposure” and “forced oral copulation,” took place in the 1980s and the statute of limitations had expired.