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Les Moonves to Stay on the Job During CBS Investigation of Sexual Misconduct Accusations (Update)

Six women accuse him of sexual harassment

CBS CEO Les Moonves will remain on the job during the network’s investigation of sexual misconduct accusations detailed in a New Yorker story published Friday.

Many other men accused of misconduct since the dawn of #MeToo stepped aside or were forced from their positions while their companies investigated the complaints against them.

But Moonves plans to continue to lead the top television network, an insider told TheWrap on Friday, before the New Yorker story posted. The insider said nothing about Moonves’ plans changed with the publication of the story.

In the New Yorker story, six women accused Moonves of sexual harassment. Four women accused the CEO of forcible touching and kissing, and two said he threatened to derail their careers. All six women said they feared speaking out would lead to retaliation, according to the story, written by Ronan Farrow.

Moonves said in a statement:

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. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.

Farrow’s New Yorker story caused a massive stir even before it published late Friday. CBS stock was down by more than 6 percent on Friday afternoon, and Shari Redstone, who is in a power struggle with Moonves over CBS’ future, issued a statement denying the “malicious insinuation” that she was behind the accusations.

CBS’s Independent Directors said in a statement Friday that the company will investigate “recently reported allegations that go back several decades.”

The insider who spoke to TheWrap said more directly what CBS’s Independent Directors said in a statement Friday.

“The timing of this report comes in the midst of the Company’s very public legal dispute. While that litigation process continues, the CBS management team has the full support of the independent board members,” the statement said. “Along with that team, we will continue to focus on creating value for our shareowners.”

CBS sued Redstone, who owns a controlling 80 percent stake in CBS and Viacom, back in May in an attempt to dilute the power she wields over CBS through her family company, National Amusements.

Redstone has tried to convince Moonves and CBS to merge with sister company Viacom.