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Les Moonves Gets Some Support In Wake Of Sexual Harassment Exposé

Les Moonves
By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
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NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) Some CBS executives have come out in support of CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves in the wake of the latest exposé by Ronan Farrow, who recently published another in a series of devastating reports on sexual harassment, this time against Moonves and CBS executives.

Moonves, 68, has been one of the few television executives to survive the tumultuous world of the fickle industry, spending decades running a CBS empire and making a yearly salary of nearly $70 million. He oversees shows like “60 Minutes” and “The Big Band Theory,” brought “Survivor” to the small screen, and has a portfolio that includes Showtime, Simon & Schuster and the streaming service CBS All Access. His wife is Julie Chen, hose of “Big Brother.”

He also was a vocal proponent of the #MeToo movement and helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

However, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Farrow’s latest New Yorker expose, six women accuse Moonves of sexual harassment, dating from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Ronan also interviewed about 30 employees that said the behavior extended into the workplace and was ingrained into the culture of “60 Minutes.”

Four claim Moonves forcibly touched or kissed them during business meetings in what appeared to be “a practiced routine.” Two said they were physically intimidated by Moonves or threatened to derail their careers. After rejecting Moonves, the subjects claim the executive became cold or hostile toward them.

“What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating,” actress and writer Illeana Douglas told Farrow.

“He has gotten away with it for decades,” said writer Janet Jones, who alleges that she had to shove Moonves off her forcibly kissing her at a meeting. “And it’s just not O.K.”

Men at CBS News who were accused of sexual harassment were promoted while their victims were quietly received settlements, according to the article, although it wasn’t clear if Moonves was aware of the situation. CBS news darling Charlie Rose has already had a public concern involving sexual harassment.

“Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company,” Moonves told the New Yorker. “I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

Six former employees accused that Jeff Fager, the former chair of CBS News, would get inebriated at parties and touch employees in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. One producer said she left “60 Minutes” because it was “a very toxic culture toward women.” Senior producer Michael Radutzky was accused by senior producer Vicki Gordon of twisting her arm behind her back, causing her to scream. Radutzky denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, CBS’s ad sales chief, Jo Ann Ross, and head of daytime, Angelica McDaniel, have come out in support of Moonves.

“I fully support Leslie Moonves and the statement he made,” Ross wrote on Twitter. “My experience with him on a professional and personal basis has never had any hint of the behavior this story refers to.”

Ross added that Moonves “has never been threatening or abusive” and always showed “the deepest respect at all times.”

“Lestlie has made me a better executive, and I have learned how to lead from him,” Ross said.

McDaniel also tweeted a lengthy statement in which she said that “statements about a culture of repression and subjugation of women have never been brought to bear on myself or my department in my eight years as a top executive at CBS.”

As news of this broke yesterday, Allen Baron, now 91, who helmed TV series like “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Love Boat” and “The Brady Bunch,” was sued by his former personal assistant who alleges misconduct ranging from sexual harassment and religious discrimination to retaliation and wrongful termination, according to Deadline Hollywood.

The lawsuit, filed by Anna Dey, accuses Barn of becoming sexually aroused after taking pills for erectile dysfunction then asking her to “touch his penis.” She said it would occur “anytime that he was undressed and alone with Dey. Her suit also claims Baron once “masturbated and ejaculated into a towel and threw the towel on [her] in a belittling and disrespectful manner.”

Barron would allegedly brag about sexual exploits including sleeping at the time with “Charlie’s Angels” superstar Farrah Fawcett.

“Baron also claimed to have forced numerous Cuban women to have sexual intercourse with him in exchange for roles in the 1959 movie ‘Cuban Rebel Girls,’” Dey alleges (Baron was an assistant director on the film). “Baron explained to Dey that any woman who did not perform sexual intercourse with him was ‘guaranteed’ not to get the part.”

Dey claims she was fired after expressing that she felt sexually harassed.

Baron’s other contributions to television history include “Love American Style,” “Room 222” and “Cagney & Lacey.”

The suit demands a jury trial and seeks unspecified compensation for damages.

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