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Les Moonves exits as head of CBS
CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves resigned from his role "effective immediately" on Sunday amid fresh allegations of sexual misconduct, the company announced in a press release.
CBS announced the move Sunday, hours after The New Yorker published a second story detailing allegations that Moonves harassed female employees and coerced one woman into performing oral sex.
As part of his departure, Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement, which supports women who have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
The donation will be deducted from any severance benefits that Moonves would have received upon his departure, CBS said in a press release.
Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will replace Moonves on an acting basis while the company's board of directors searches for a permanent successor, the network said.
The company did not rule out the possibility of Moonves receiving future benefits, stating that such a payment "will depend on the results of the independent investigation and subsequent Board investigation."
In a statement obtained by Variety, Moonves spoke fondly of his time leading CBS, and called the allegations against him "untrue," and "not consistent with who I am."
"I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company," Moonves said. "I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees."
The announcement arrived as the network was reportedly negotiating Moonves's exit and a possible settlement.
The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow published a report in July in which six women accused Moonves of sexual harassment, with four describing forced touching or kissing, and dozens of other employees detailing a culture of gender discrimination.
Moonves denied allegations of sexual assault or intimidation at the time, but acknowledged trying to kiss an actress and writer working for the network. The network appointed an independent investigator to look into the allegations, but did not take further action against Moonves at the time.
On Sunday, Farrow published a follow-up piece in which six more women accused Moonves of exposing himself, threatening their careers or, in one case, forcing a woman to perform oral sex.
Moonves, in a statement to The New Yorker, admitted to three of the sexual encounters, but insisted they were all consensual.
Moonves is the latest major media industry figure to step down amid allegations of sexual assault or harassment. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and others have all been accused of misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement.
- Updated at 10:32 p.m.