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CBS Won't Pay Les Moonves' $120M Severance Package After Sexual Misconduct Probe

The company's board of directors determined the disgraced former executive's firing was justified. 

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

After an extensive investigation, CBS has determined that former CEO Les Moonves was fired with just cause and, as a result, he will not be awarded the $120 million severance package he stood to pocket.

Moonves stepped down in September amid claims of repeated sexual misconduct, prompting the network to launch an investigation into his conduct while they held off on delivering the multi-million dollar payment. Lawyers hired to conduct the independent investigation concluded that the ousted CEO repeatedly engaged in sexual misconduct and then attempted to hinder their investigation by destroying evidence, according to an early version of their report obtained by The New York Times. After holding several meetings to discuss investigators’ findings, CBS’ board of directors determined on Monday that Moonves violated the company’s policies and was rightfully terminated, thus making him ineligible to receive any severance pay, The New York Times reports.

“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 board said in a statement obtained by The New York Times.

Following the publication of a report in The New Yorker detailing the sexual misconduct accusations of numerous women, Moonves admitted to having what he considered consensual encounters with three of his accusers, but largely denied the sexual misconducts allegations against him, describing them as “appalling” and “untrue.”

Andrew Levander, a lawyer representing Moonves, called CBS’ recent ruling “foreordained” and “without merit” in a statement issued to The Times.

“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,” Levander said. “Mr. Moonves vehemently denies any nonconsensual sexual relations and cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Investigators found that Moonves 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 the report obtained by The Times. Moonves had “transactional” sexual encounters and had a specific employee “on call” to perform oral sex, investigators said. Moonves called it consensual.

The former CBS boss was also “evasive and untruthful” during the course of the investigation, and obstructed their work by deleting damning text messages, investigators said. Moonves again denied as much, issuing a statement to The Times via his lawyer claiming that he “cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”

Despite what appears to be an end to the Moonves saga, CBS remains a network steeped in controversy. Actress Eliza Dushku was allegedly written off of the show “Bulls” after reporting the harassment she endured at the hands of her co-star, actor Michael Weatherly, according to a recent report in The New York Times. CBS reportedly paid Dushku a $9.5 million confidential settlement following a mediation process.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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