NEW YORK (Reuters) - Six more women have raised sexual assault and harassment claims against CBS Corp (CBS.N) Chief Executive Leslie Moonves in a report published on Sunday in the New Yorker magazine, while the media company has reached an exit agreement with him.
Moonves’ resignation, following similar claims made by six other women against him, could be announced as early as Monday morning, according to sources familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the plans had not been made public.
The newly disclosed incidents, which the women said occurred between the 1980s and early 2000s, were published in the New Yorker story and included claims of forced sex, Moonves exposing himself and use of physical violence and intimidation. All six of the women were named in the article.
The New Yorker reported that these women said Moonves also retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers.
CBS has negotiated an estimated $100 million settlement with Moonves, sources told Reuters.
“I definitely think he should resign, and I don’t think he should get $100 million to resign,” said Linda Silverthorn, who accused Moonves of unwanted sexual advances in the New Yorker article.
Silverthorn told Reuters the New Yorker’s account was accurate.
Reached by telephone, another one of the women, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, referred questions to lawyer Gloria Allred.
Allred told Reuters she is representing two clients in the matter who are willing to cooperate with an ongoing independent investigation, “and I do think it is important that the board receive a report.”
Efforts to reach the other women were unsuccessful.
Moonves, 68, joined CBS in 1995 and became CEO in 2006. He could not immediately be reached to comment on Sunday after the latest claims.
In a statement to the magazine, Moonves acknowledged three of the encounters, but said they were consensual.
“The appalling accusations in this article are untrue,” Moonves told the New Yorker. “What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women. In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career.”
CBS said on Sunday it takes such allegations very seriously.
“The CBS Board of Directors is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, and that investigation is actively underway,” the media company’s board said in a statement.
The company also reached a deal to settle litigation over the control of the company with National Amusements in a deal expected to be announced as early as before the markets open on Monday, the sources told Reuters. A representative of CBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone and National Amusements declined to comment.
CBS will donate a portion of the $100 million settlement to an unnamed charity and the company reserves the right to claw back all of the remaining payment pending the results of the investigation into allegations of sexual assault and harassment, the sources said.
In August, CBS hired two law firms to investigate allegations of sexual assault and unwanted advances following a New Yorker report that featured claims against Moonves from six women spanning different periods over two decades, from 1985 to 2006.
Following the New Yorker report in August, Moonves said he regretted “immensely” making some women uncomfortable by making advances, but added that he abided by the principle that “no means no” and stated he had never misused his position to harm or hinder anyone’s career.
The author of the New Yorker articles, Ronan Farrow, previously has written reports that contributed to the resignation of Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein from his film and TV studio following accusations of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein has denied the accusations. His downfall helped spawn the #MeToo movement that has forced the resignation of powerful men in Hollywood, corporate America and politics.
Reporting by Kenneth Li and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Will Dunham