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Les Moonves accuser speaks out: 'He took my whole career'

A woman who accused CBS CEO Les Moonves of sexual misconduct spoke out Monday.

September 10, 2018, 3:53 PM

A one-time TV executive who accused former CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves of sexual impropriety said Monday "he took my whole career."

Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb spoke out on ABC News’ "Good Morning America" a day after Moonves resigned as chairman and chief executive after the online publication of a bombshell article in the New Yorker magazine in which six women said they had either been sexually abused by Moonves, had their careers destroyed for rebuffing his alleged advances or both.

Golden-Gottlieb said she hopes Moonves' punishment includes more than just his resignation as one of the most powerful media executives in the nation.

PHOTO: Leslie "Les" Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp., listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York City, Oct. 14, 2015.
Leslie "Les" Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corp., listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, Oct. 14, 2015.
Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

"I would like him to be accountable for what he did," she told ABC News' chief anchor George Stephanopoulos of the allegation.

In the New Yorker article by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ronan Farrow, Golden-Gottlieb described being sexually assaulted by Moonves in the 1980s when they both worked for the television production company Lorimar-Telepictures. She said Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on him.

When Golden-Gottlieb rejected subsequent inappropriate advances she said he made, Moonves set out to destroy her career, once berating her for not sending out a memo and violently throwing her against a wall, she said.

"He took my whole career," Golden-Gottlieb, now 82, said on “GMA.”

PHOTO:  Phyllis Golden Gottlieb on "Good Morning America," Sept. 10, 2018.
Phyllis Golden Gottlieb on "Good Morning America," Sept. 10, 2018.
ABC News

Moonves, who resigned just hours after the New Yorker article was published Sunday, denied the allegations made against him by Golden-Gottlieb and five other women who gave similar accounts of sexual abuse and retribution.

The women spoke to the New Yorker after six other women alleged in an article published in the magazine in early August that Moonves had sexually harassed them.

Moonves has adamantly denied the allegations and says he had consensual relationships with three of the women accusing him of improper conduct in the latest New Yorker article.

"The appalling accusations in this article are untrue," Moonves said in a statement. "What is true is that I had consensual relations with three of the women some 25 years ago before I came to CBS. And I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women.

"In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career," he said. "Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me.” Moonves declined to specify which three encounters he considered consensual."

Moonves, 68 -- who has been married for 14 years to Julie Chen, a CBS TV personality and host of "The Talk" -- declined to name which of the women with whom he had consensual relationships.

Golden-Gottlieb denied having a consensual relationship with Moonves.

"That's a joke, it's so bad," she said of Moonves' statement.

CBS said Moonves and CBS will donate $20 million to "one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace," according to a company statement.

The donation will be made immediately and deducted from any severance benefits that may be given to Moonves, the network added. Any additional payments will depend upon the results of CBS' independent investigation and evaluation by the board of directors, the network said.

CBS has hired two outside law firms to investigate the allegations now made by 12 women against Moonves. The investigation is ongoing.

The New Yorker reviewed Moonves' employment contract and Farrow told “GMA” that Moonves stands to receive a severance package of up to $100 million. But CBS News reported Monday that Moonves severance package was about $80 million.

The network could take back as much as half that depending on the results of its internal investigation, CBS officials said in a statement.

Moonves' wife, Chen, did not appear as a co-host on CBS’ "The Talk" Monday, the first show of the program's ninth season. Co-host Sharon Osbourne said at the start of the broadcast that Chen was "taking off time to be with her family."

Osbourne then spearheaded a discussion of their former boss, Moonves, and she and the three other co-hosts expressed support and love for Chen.

When allegations were first raised against Moonves in July, Osbourne issued a statement telling people "don't rush to judgment" and suggested the allegations were an "attempt to discredit Leslie" in a legal battle over control of CBS.

"Now, after ... more women have come out, the stories are so similar, the pattern is so similar, that for me, it's not being convicted of any crime,” Osbourne said Monday. “But, obviously, the man has a problem and I'd like to say, Mr. Moonves should step down, and Mr. Moonves is an extremely wealthy man and good luck to him ... He has worked hard. He made this network number one."

Another co-host, the rapper Eve, added, "I support Julie and I'm praying for her and praying for her family.

"I hope and pray we get to a place where we don't have to talk about this anymore, where women are equal, where this won't have to happen anymore," Eve said.

Co-host Sara Gilbert noted that "this is an important time in our culture."

"All women's stories matter and these women's stories matter," Gilbert said of Moonves' accusers. "This is very serious and appropriate actions need to take place and so I'm happy women are heard because for a long time they haven't been."

On "CBS This Morning" Monday, co-host Norah O'Donnell tackled the subject of her boss' resignation.

"This is really hard. It's hard for everybody at CBS News," O'Donnell said. "I haven't talked about this before because when you think about ... I think the most powerful media executive in America has nowresigned in the wake of this #MeToo movement and he's my boss, or he was my boss. So, that makes it really hard to comment on it."

She noted that the Moonves' scandal comes just 10 months after she and co-host Gayle King discussed on air the firing of colleague Charlie Rose for alleged sexual misconduct.

"But here's what I said back then and I think it still holds and I want to say it again: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior,” O'Donnell said. “It is systemic and it is pervasive in our culture. And this I know is true to the core of my being, women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility."

Moonves "has always treated me fairly and with respect,” she said, adding that she remains "proud to work at CBS News."

"This has hurt morale but there are some really, really good people that come to work every single day,” O'Donnell. “As a journalist, I am confident that the truth is going to come out because this is being investigated. There are two prominent investigations going on by some really good lawyers and this has to end and the story will continue."

Her co-host John Dickerson told O'Donnell, "I'm really proud to hear you say that."

"I was talking to somebody this weekend who I'm very close to, [who] had something like this happen to them 30 years ago,” Dickerson said. “It still stays with her. Not only the feeling in the moment but the powerlessness afterward. And so I couldn't agree more with what you said."

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of Moonves' accusers, including Golden-Gottlieb, said on “GMA” Monday morning that the statute of limitations has also run out on filing a civil suit against Moonves.

She said many of the women accusing Moonves of inappropriate behavior have expressed concerns about speaking to CBS' independent investigators "because they are being paid by CBS."

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