New York: Leslie Moonves, the powerful longtime Chairman and Chief Executive of CBS, has resigned in the wake of sexual assault accusations, concluding a tumultuous six weeks that saw him fall from the position of one of the countrys most respected media titans.
The company announced the news in a statement late Sunday, saying that CBS Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will take over as interim CEO and President, both Moonves’ titles, as the company looks for a permanent replacement.
The announcement ends Moonves’ 20-year tenure. In July, six women accused the media titan of sexual-misconduct in The New Yorker that led to the board hiring outside lawyers to conduct an investigation into Moonves and activists to call for his removal.
On the magazine’s website earlier on Sunday, an additional six women alleged behaviour that includes sexual misconduct, harassment and retaliation.
The allegations also include Moonves exposing himself without consent and the use of physical violence and intimidation to silence the women.
In response to the New Yorker story, a CBS spokesman on Sunday told The Washington Post: “CBS takes these allegations very seriously. Our Board of Directors is conducting a thorough investigation of these matters, which is ongoing.”
Moonves is still expected to collect millions as part of a settlement with the board, though the company said it will withhold any decision on payment until after the investigation is complete.
According to a statement from the company, Moonves and CBS will also “donate $20 million to one or more organisations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
“The donation, which will be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves following the Board’s ongoing independent investigation.”
Moonves has been with CBS since 1995 and has held the title of Chief Executive for the past 15 years.
In early 2006 CBS became a separate entity as it split from Viacom, and has since been one of the most profitable in entertainment.