CBS, Les Moonves Will Pay $30.5M Over Alleged Cover-Up

Network came to agreement with New York AG's office
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2022 1:59 AM CDT
CBS, Les Moonves Will Pay $30.5M Over Alleged Cover-Up
FILE - Then-CBS president Leslie Moonves attends the CBS Network 2015 Programming Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 13, 2015, in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

CBS and its former president, Leslie Moonves, will pay $30.5 million as part of an agreement with the New York attorney general's office, which says the network's executives conspired with a Los Angeles police captain to conceal sexual assault allegations against Moonves. Under the deal announced Wednesday by Attorney General Letitia James, the broadcast giant is required to pay $22 million to shareholders and another $6 million for sexual harassment and assault programs, the AP reports. Moonves will have to pay $2.5 million, all of which will benefit stockholders who the attorney general said were initially kept in the dark about the allegations. At least one of those executives—one of the few privy to an internal investigation—sold millions of dollars of stock before the allegations against Moonves became public, which the attorney general's office said amounted to insider trading.

“As a publicly traded company, CBS failed its most basic duty to be honest and transparent with the public and investors. After trying to bury the truth to protect their fortunes, today CBS and Leslie Moonves are paying millions of dollars for their wrongdoing," James said in a statement, calling attempts to mislead investors “reprehensible.” A spokesperson for Paramount Global, which owns CBS, said it was “pleased to resolve this matter ... without any admission of liability or wrongdoing," adding that the “matter involved alleged misconduct by CBS’s former CEO, who was terminated for cause in 2018, and does not relate in any way to the current company.”

In a document outlining the findings of its investigation, the attorney general's office detailed an alleged scheme by a Los Angeles police captain (later identified by the LAPD as Cory Palka, who retired last year in the rank of commander after 34 years in the department) to try to cover up the allegations against Moonves, which were reported to police in November 2017 in the early days of the #MeToo movement. Palka allegedly tipped off CBS within hours, instructed officers investigating the complaint to "admonish" the accuser not to go to the media, and made other efforts in coordination with CBS execs to attempt to prevent the complaint from becoming public. When it made the news anyway and Moonves resigned, the captain sent a note to a CBS contact saying, “We worked so hard to try to avoid this day.” (More on the investigation here.)

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