CBS, former CEO Moonves to pay $9.75 million for allegedly covering up sexual assault claims

by Jacob Fuller


CBS Corp and former Chief Executive Leslie Moonves agreed on Wednesday to pay investors an additional $9.75 million to settle the New York attorney general’s allegations that the company sought to cover up sexual assault claims against Moonves, including by colluding with a California police officer.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the settlement under which CBS, now known as Paramount Global, will pay $7.25 million and Moonves will pay $2.5 million to shareholders.

“As a publicly traded company, CBS failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent,” James said in a statement.

Moonves and CBS did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

A Paramount spokesperson said the company was pleased to resolve the matter, saying it “does not relate in any way to the current company.”

The settlement comes in addition to the $14.75 million CBS and Moonves agreed in April to pay to settle a related shareholder lawsuit in New York. The lawsuit alleged they initially hid the misconduct allegations while publicly supporting the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. CBS and Moonves have denied that they misled investors.

Moonves resigned under pressure in September 2018 after the New Yorker published sexual assault and misconduct accusations against him by a dozen women. Moonves has previously denied any wrongdoing and has described his sexual encounters as consensual.

In December 2018, CBS said it had fired Moonves for cause and withheld his $120 million severance package.

On Wednesday, the attorney general’s office said its investigation had uncovered that a Los Angeles Police Department captain alerted a CBS executive to a woman’s sexual assault complaint against Moonves in 2017.

The company used that information to try to get ahead of any reporting on the complaint and to research the woman and her family, the office said.

An LAPD spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In addition to concealing allegations from investors, CBS also allowed its Chief Communication Officer Gil Schwartz to sell CBS stock while he was aware of non-public accusations against Moonves, the attorney general said.

Schwartz died in 2020.

CBS entered an agreement with the New York attorney general in 2020 to dedicate $6 million over three years to internal reforms such as employee training, the office said on Wednesday.

CBS merged with sister company Viacom Inc in December 2019. The combined ViacomCBS changed its name to Paramount Global in February.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters