Six additional women are accusing Leslie Moonves of sexual harassment or assault, writes The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow in an article posted today. The incidents allegedly took place between the 1980s and the early 2000s, according to Farrow, and include claims that Moonves forced the woman to perform oral sex, exposed himself without their consent and “used physical violence and intimidation against them.”
According to the article, headlined “As Leslie Moonves Negotiates His Exit from CBS, Women Raise New Assault and Harassment Claims,” some of the women claim Moonves damaged their careers in retaliation for rebuffing him.
Farrow, in a brief interview today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, told host Brian Stelter that the new article – the second he’s written about Moonves – involves more serious allegations than the first, including physically forced or coerced oral sex. Farrow told Stelter that the women came forward because they are “extraordinarily frustrated by what they perceive to be inaction on the part of CBS.”
CBS Corporation released the following statement: “CBS takes these allegations very seriously. Our Board of Directors is conducting a thorough investigation of these matters, which is ongoing.” A CBS board of directors statement said it is “committed to a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations, and that investigation is actively underway.”
The New Yorker noted that Moonves, in a statement, acknowledged three of the six newly disclosed encounters, but said that they were consensual: “The appalling accusations in this article are untrue. 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. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.” Moonves did not specify the three encounters he considered consensual.
In today’s New Yorker article, posted at 11 am ET, Farrow writes, “Similar frustrations about perceived inaction have prompted another woman to raise a claim of misconduct against Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes, who previously reported to Moonves as the chairman of CBS News.”
As reported by Deadline Thursday, the New Yorker article confirms that Moonves is negotiating his exit from CBS.
Among the women making new allegations against Moonves is Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, described as a veteran television executive who worked with Moonves in the 1980s. She told Farrow that she filed a criminal complaint late last year with the LAPD, “accusing Moonves of physically restraining her and forcing her to perform oral sex on him, and of exposing himself to her and violently throwing her against a wall in later incidents.”
The New Yorker reports that law-enforcement sources say “they found Golden-Gottlieb’s allegations credible and consistent but prosecutors declined to pursue charges because the statutes of limitations for the crimes had expired.”
In another allegation, Jessica Pallingston, who worked as an assistant to various Warner Bros execs, said she was assigned to Moonves for several days in 1994 when he was president of Warner Bros Television. On her first day with Moonves, in a meeting at his suite at the Regency Hotel, Moonves “kissed her, shoving his tongue down her throat ‘like he was trying to reach my stomach.’ Then ‘he said, “I want you to suck my c*ck.” ‘ She recalled mumbling ‘O.K.,’ and Moonves grabbing her head and forcing it onto his penis. ‘He kept his clothes on. He had Calvin Klein underpants. He pushed my head down, hard,’ she said. ‘It was very violent, very aggressive. There was real hostility in it.’ ”
Pallingston said she suffered a panic attack and Moonves departed for a meeting. Other instances of harassment followed later, and the following year Moonves, then at CBS, called a WB executive Pallingston worked for. “As she connected the phone call, she recalled, Moonves ordered her to get the executive on the line, addressing her as ‘you c*nt.’ Pallingston told me that her experiences with Moonves worsened a decades-long struggle with anxiety, depression, and controlling her anger. Her career in television ‘sort of fell apart.’ She continued to pursue writing, eventually publishing several books, but abandoned her ambitions of working full-time in television. ‘It played a number on my head, especially in terms of self-worth, professionally,’ she said, of Moonves’s behavior.”