Les Moonves’ forced retirement from CBS four years ago was caused by a sexual misconduct scandal that has since morphed into bicoastal inquiries into insider trading and police corruption.
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, made the announcement on Wednesday that Moonves and the network would pay a combined sum of $30.5 million as part of an agreement resulting from an investigation conducted by her office. The investigation focused on claims that CBS executives and a Los Angeles police captain attempted to suppress sexual assault complaints made against Moonves.
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James said in a statement that CBS and Moonves “failed its most fundamental duty to be honest and upfront with the public and investors,” adding that they tried to “suppress victims, lie to the public, and mislead investors.”
However, the agreement did not contain a company admission of guilt or liability. We are happy to have resolved this case, which concerned “alleged misbehaviour” by the former CBS CEO, who was “terminated for cause in 2018 and does not relate in any way to the current firm,” according to a Paramount Global spokesperson.
In the meantime, the Los Angeles Police Department revealed on Wednesday that it had started its own inquiry into a former worker and was looking to see whether anybody else had been engaged in trying to cover up allegations against Moonves. The alleged breach of trust of a sexual assault victim, who is one of the most vulnerable, by an LAPD officer, according to police chief Michael Moore, is the most awful.
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) November 3, 2022
Of the $30.5 million that CBS and Moonves agreed to pay, $14.75 million was related to a prior settled class action shareholder complaint. This week’s accord included Moonves contributing $2.5 million and Paramount agreeing to add an additional $7.25 million to the cash going to shareholders. A further $6 million from Paramount will be used for anti-sexual assault and harassment initiatives.
A request for response from Moonves’s counsel went unanswered. The arrangement comes four years after Moonves, who was once seen as a media kingmaker, left his position as CBS president after being accused of sexual misconduct by many women in articles published by the New Yorker.
The business soon conducted its own inquiry, finding grounds for terminating Moonves, and refused to pay him millions of dollars in compensation. The former executive “vehemently rejects any nonconsensual sexual interactions and cooperated extensively and thoroughly with investigations for the company,” according to his lawyer at the time.
On Wednesday, the New York attorney general’s office provided information about what it claimed was going on behind the scenes at CBS in the fall of 2017, just after the #MeToo movement had accelerated due to explosive revelations about Harvey Weinstein.
According to the New York investigation, a Los Angeles police captain, who was nameless in the report, informed a CBS official by voicemail that a complaint of sexual assault against Moonves had been made to the Hollywood station. The captain later provided Moonves and other executives with an unredacted police report that revealed the accuser’s identify. The article claims that these executives pressured the accuser to refrain from telling her tale to the media and spent months attempting to suppress the news of the allegation.
NEW: NY AG says an (unnamed) LAPD captain told Les Moonves he was under investigation for sexual assault, allowing Moonves and another executive to sell millions of dollars in stock before the allegations became public. Moonves, CBS agree to pay $30.5 million for insider trading.
— Kate Cagle (@KateCagle) November 2, 2022
In the meantime, Moonves painted himself as supportive of the movement and called #MeToo a “watershed moment” in public. “I believe it is crucial that a company’s culture forbids this. At a gathering in late November 2017, he stated, “And that is the thing that is far-reaching.” “We’re discovering a lot. There are many things we didn’t know. After a Washington Post investigation revealed numerous complaints of sexual harassment against him, he gave his approval for Charlie Rose, a prominent anchor, to be fired.
According to the state attorney general’s report, CBS filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission around the same time claiming that Moonves was essential to the success of the company without disclosing that it was aware of the police report and the potential consequences as “risk factors” for the company.
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According to the study, CBS officials were aware that allegations against Moonves may cause issues for the business. Gil Schwartz, a communications professional who is said to have been aware of the impending problem, was given permission by the firm to sell shares that were then worth more than $8 million weeks before the first New Yorker article.
Such activities, according to the New York Attorney General’s office, are against state laws intended to safeguard investors. Following media reports of Moonves’ alleged misbehaviour, company stock prices plummeted. According to the article, the captain texted a corporate executive on the day Moonves quit to say, “We worked so hard to try to avoid this day. I feel so unbearably depressed.
The captain has been recognised by the Los Angeles Police Department as retired commander Cory Palka. No response was given to messages left for Palka. In 2020, CBS communications executive Schwartz passed away.
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