CBS chief Leslie Moonves accused of sexual misconduct in Ronan Farrow article

An article by The New Yorker accuses the CBS CEO of sexual misconduct.

July 27, 2018, 7:41 PM

The New Yorker has published a bombshell investigation of the head of CBS Corporation that includes allegations of sexual misconduct.

The article by Ronan Farrow alleges that CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, including unwanted kissing and touching that occurred over 20 years ago.

Representatives for Moonves did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment Friday afternoon.

The media company's stock fell by more than 5 percent Friday afternoon amid news of the impending investigation and the allegations.

Farrow told ABC News that his latest piece is "about six women who did an incredibly brave thing: overcoming tremendous fear of retaliation to speak about their experiences with Moonves."

"But it’s also a story about dozens and dozens of sources who told us that a culture of harassment and retaliation had permeated various facets of his company," he said.

Farrow said the women recalled events when they were threatened with retaliation when rebuffing advances and detailed accounts of sexual assault. They "say that they are still afraid of Les Moonves," Farrow said.

"They are speaking because they believe there is a broader culture around him in which he has protected other men who have engaged in similar misconduct," Farrow said.

In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves denied any allegations of sexual assault but acknowledged, "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."

"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," the statement read. "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."

Moonves' wife, Julie Chen made her support for her husband clear on Twitter, describing him as a "good man and loving father who "has always been a kind, decent and moral human being."

"I have known my husband, Leslie Moonves, since the late '90s, and I have been married to him for almost 14 years," Chen's statement read. "Leslie is a good man and a loving father, devoted husband and inspiring corporate leader. He has always been a kind, decent and moral human being. I fully support my husband and stand behind him in this statement.

When asked for comment by ABC News on the report, the company's independent board of directors said it would investigate the accusations.

"All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously," the directors said in an emailed statement. "The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company's clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action. The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company's very public legal dispute. While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members. Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners."

In a later statement, CBS said that it is "very mindful of all workplace issues and takes each report of misconduct very seriously," but added that it does not believe "that the picture of our company created in the New Yorker represents a larger organization that does its best to treat its tens of thousands of employees with dignity and respect."

"We are seeing vigorous discourse in our country about equality, inclusion and safety in the workplace, and CBS is committed to being part of the solution to those important issues," the network said.

A person "familiar with the situation" told The Wall Street Journal that CBS has no plans to sideline Moonves during its investigation.

The New Yorker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service for stories published last year by Farrow, a contributing writer, that exposed the alleged pattern of sexual predation by movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

ABC News' Courtney Condron and Michael Kreisel contributed to this report.