CBS Denies Moonves $120 Million Severance

Harvey Weinstein (right) speaks with Les Moonves (left) during a forum titled “Beyond Primetime, will media help grow healthier kids” in New York, February 6, 2007. (Chip East /Reuters )

The CBS Corporation, frustrated by former chief executive Leslie Moonves’ attempts to muddy a sexual misconduct probe into his behavior, on Tuesday announced it will deny the network legend his $120 million severance payout.

“We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies and breach of his employment contract, as well as his willful failure to cooperate fully with the company’s investigation,” the CBS board said in a statement.

Moonves’ was ousted in September after at least 17 women made credible claims of sexual misconduct against him, including that he forced them to have oral sex, groped them, and threatened them with consequences if they refused.

The former network chief “engaged in multiple acts of serious nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace, both before and after he came to CBS in 1995,” according to a report by attorney investigators.

The five-month investigation discovered that Moonves lied to investigators and scrambled to silence an accuser, then deleted texts that showed that attempt.

The lawyers concluded that Moonves was “evasive and untruthful at times and to have deliberately lied about and minimized the extent of his sexual misconduct.”

“The conclusions of the CBS board were foreordained and are without merit,” Moonves’ lawyer said in a statement. “Consistent with the pattern of leaks that have permeated this ‘process,’ the press was informed of these baseless conclusions before Mr. Moonves, further damaging his name, reputation, career and legacy.”

Moonves, famous for producing smash hits like “Friends” and “Full House,” was being paid $69.3 million annually before he his fall from grace.

Acting chief executive of CBS Joseph Ianniello warned in an email to company employees that even though the investigation is behind them the network still has “significant improvements” to make.

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