Les Moonves Responds to CBS Firing, Calls Sexual Assault Claims 'Untrue'

Hours after CBS announced Leslie Moonves’ ouster from the network Sunday, the former executive released a statement refuting allegations of sexual assault made against him.

Moonves’ stepping down as CEO and chairman of CBS, rumored for weeks, was made official after The New Yorker posted multiple stories in which women — including Moonves’ former assistant Jessica Pallingston, veteran television executive Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb and actress Ileana Douglas — accused the executive of various sexual and physical assaults over the course of decades.

In a statement, Moonves called the women’s claims “untrue allegations from decades ago” and said the stories were “not consistent with who I am.”

Per CBS, Moonves’ departure is effective immediately. Chief Operating Officer Joseph Ianniello will serve as President and Acting CEO while the CBS Board searches for a permanent successor. In addition, CBS will donate $20 million of Moonves’ potential severance to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and gender equality in the workplace.

Read Moonves’ statement in full below:

For the past 24 years it has been an incredible privilege to lead CBS’s renaissance and transformation into a leading global media company. The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company. Together, we built CBS into a destination where the best in the business come to work and succeed.

Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am.  Effective immediately I will no longer be Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CBS.

I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company. I wish nothing but the best for the organization, the newly comprised board of directors and all of its employees.

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