Les Moonves, the embattled former chief at CBS Corp., faces fresh allegations of sexual assault revealed in a New York Times investigation, further undercutting his bid to collect as much as $120 million in severance.
According to a story published Wednesday, Moonves allegedly forced himself on a young actress named Bobbie Phillips in 1995. As the longtime chief executive officer sought to tamp down sexual-harassment accusations this year, he looked into possible jobs for Phillips, the Times reported. Moonves acknowledged to the Times that he had a sexual encounter with the actress two decades ago, but said it was consensual.
Moonves stepped down from CBS in September, but lawyers hired by the media giant continue to investigate his actions. The outcome of the probe will determine whether the 69-year-old receives some or any of his hefty severance package.
CBS declined to comment on the New York Times story, beyond saying that its investigation continues. Moonves couldn’t immediately be reached.
The Times story — by offering specific details about the 1995 incident and alleged efforts by Moonves to keep it quiet — may make it more difficult for him to seek redemption. The piece relied on a trove of text messages, as well as interviews with Phillips and talent manager Marv Dauer.
According to the Times report, Phillips was offered a guest role on the show “Blood and Treasure,’’ at $1,500 for a day’s shooting. The promised pay was later increased to $5,000, the Times said, but Phillips rejected the job.
After the board learned that Moonves tried to find a job for one of his accusers, it held an emergency meeting with lawyers, the Times said. That helped turn the tide, the newspaper reported, setting the stage for Moonves’s ouster.
The media mogul’s downfall was triggered by explosive allegations in the New Yorker, which reported that he sexually harassed a dozen women and tried to harm their careers. He also was waging a separate fight with majority shareholder National Amusements Inc. over a plan to dilute the investor’s stake. That clash was resolved when he agreed to step down.
“Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am,” Moonves said at the time. “I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company.”