Personal Injury

CBS CEO remains in charge after sexual harassment allegations

sexual harassment me too 315x210 CBS CEO remains in charge after sexual harassment allegationsWhen Actress Illeana Douglas’ was pinned down on the couch by powerful CBS Corporation chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves like “a trapped animal,” her body falling limp and unresponsive beneath him as he forcibly kissed and pressed against her, her first thought was to get out of the situation by “joking my way out of it.”

It was 1997 – long before the #metoo movement took hold – when Moonves was president of CBS Entertainment working his way to the top of the corporate ladder. Douglas had already made a name for herself in movies like “Cape Fear” and “Goodfellas,” and would later receive an Emmy nomination for her role in HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Moonves told her he was impressed with her work. The network cast her for a role in a comedy, “Queens.”

But in March 1997, shortly before production of the pilot episode of “Queens,” Moonves called Douglas for a meeting in his office. The conversation quickly went south. Moonves reportedly aggressively started coming on to Douglas. “In a millisecond, he got one arm over me, pinning me…violently kissing me,” she recently told The New Yorker. “What it feels like to have someone hold you down – you can’t breathe, you can’t move … the physicality of it was horrendous.”

When Moonves paused to ask her what she thought, she turned to joking. “Yes, for the head of a network, you’re some good kisser.” She managed to scramble out from under him and get away. But the moment “stayed with me the rest of my life, that terror.” It derailed her during rehearsals for “Queens” when Moonves would walk into the room. After the second rehearsal Moonves pulled her aside and berated her for a weak performance. Then had her replaced in the role citing that she was “not funny.”

Douglas shared her sexual harassment story with her friend Martin Scorsese, who referred her to his attorney. A settlement was worked out that involved money as well as a role in a miniseries. But Douglas says she believes the incident “derailed any future career I would have had at CBS.”

Douglas told The New Yorker that she decided to name her powerful assailant against the advice of others because she wanted to protect other women. Looking back, she wishes she had been warned before stepped into the meeting alone with Moonves. “In retrospect, of course, you say, ‘Oh, it’s all a crazy setup … I was, I hate to say it, the perfect victim.”

Douglas isn’t the only woman to come out against Moonves. Five others have come forward since, claiming they were sexually assaulted by the man. Meanwhile, Moonves remains CEO of the multimillion-dollar company.

In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves said, “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. 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.”

Source: New Yorker