“The Board takes any allegation of this type seriously. An independent review of the alleged incident has concluded, and the investigation did not support the allegation,” ViacomCBS said in a statement.
Website the Information first reported and Deadline has confirmed that the review centered on a complaint made this year by a former Nickelodeon employee, who alleged that Bakish touched her inappropriately at Viacom’s holiday party in 2016, when he was acting CEO.
Bakish became CEO of Viacom in 2017 and was named chief of the combined company when Viacom and CBS merged in December.
The issue is a sensitive one for companies, ViacomCBS in particular. The news of the probe of Bakish comes several years after the CBS side of the company was tainted by a highly public sexual misconduct scandal focused on former CBS CEO Les Moonves. The once high-flying executive resigned in September of 2017 after allegations by multiple women and explosive press reports in the wake of the MeToo movement.
Moonves was formally fired with cause in December, forfeiting as much as $120 million in severance. The CBS board at the time accused him of “willful and material malfeasance.”
Reports subsequently emerged of a culture of bullying, verbal abuse and sexual harassment at CBS News show 60 Minutes and complaints of a toxic work environment at some CBS televsion stations. Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes was fired shortly after Moonves for a threatening email sent to a reported.
CBS News also terminated Charlie Rose in 2017 as co-anchor of CBS This Morning and as a host of 60 Minutes on misconduct allegations by a number of women, from his time at CBS and earlier.