CBS boss Moonves reportedly tried to silence sex assault allegations with TV roles - and his $120 million severance is in jeopardy
- A damning New York Times report says that Les Moonves tried to silence a woman who accused him of sexual assault with a TV role at a CBS show so she would keep quiet.
- Moonves, who was then working for Warner Bros., allegedly forced Bobbie Phillips to perform oral sex on him in 1995.
- Moonves acknowledged that encounter but told The Times and CBS investigators that the oral sex was consensual.
- After a reporter contacted Phillips' agent, Marv Dauer, to discuss Moonves' alleged sexual misconduct, Dauer tried contacting Moonves to secure roles for Phillips and his other clients, The Times said.
- This report could jeopardize a $120 million exit package that CBS is considering whether or not to pay Moonves.
Les Moonves tried to bribe an actress that he sexually assaulted with TV roles so she would keep quiet, a damning report in The New York Times said.
During a March 1995 meeting in Burbank, California, Moonves - the president of Warner Bros. television at the time - exposed his penis to actress Bobbie Phillips and tried to force her into giving him oral sex, Phillips told The New York Times.Moonves reportedly old Phillips: "Be my girlfriend and I'll put you on any show," before allegedly grabbing her by the neck, pushing her to her knees, and forcing his penis into her mouth.
Moonves acknowledged that encounter but told The Times that the oral sex was consensual.
Moonves joined CBS later that year, ultimately becoming CEO and chairman of CBS Corp. Phillips retired from acting in 2003.
But the 1995 encounter came to haunt her again last November - around the rise of the #MeToo movement - after a reporter contacted Marv Dauer, her agent, about allegations of sexual misconduct by Moonves.
Dauer reportedly didn't say anything at the time, but contacted Moonves in December to talk about Phillips, during which they agreed to get her an acting gig to keep her from speaking out, The Times reported. Phillips had told Dauer around that time that she wanted to get back into acting, The Times said.At least 12 women have accused Moonves of sexual assault since July. Some of them said they believed Moonves jettisoned their careers after they rejected his advances. Moonves left CBS in September.
Business Insider has contacted Warner Bros. and CBS Corp. for comment on his alleged sexual assault against Phillips.
CBS has launched an internal investigation into Moonves' behavior, and are figuring out whether to pay him a $120 million severance payment.
The exit package hinges on whether Moonves was honest with the corporations' investigators, and this report could threaten that. Business Insider has contacted CBS for comment on the status of Moonves' exit package.
How Moonves reportedly tried to get his accuser a job
Moonves said Dauer pressured him to get jobs for his clients, including Phillips, while Dauer said he was just trying to warn Moonves about the reporter's call.
Though the two men's accounts of that conversation differed, it started a chain of texts and phonecalls that showed the extent to which Moonves wanted to keep his accuser quiet.In January, Dauer reportedly texted Moonves: "My hope is when she [Phillips] is working all this will go far far away." He reportedly added: "I certainly believe I can put this to bed."
In July, The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow contacted Moonves for comment on allegations of sexual assault. Moonves called Dauer, according to The Times, and said: "They're coming out with an article in The New Yorker," adding that Phillips "has got to take this job or I'm done."
One month later, Moonves told Dauer: "If Bobbie talks, I'm finished."
CBS investigators have since found that Moonves deleted many text messages with Dauer from his iPad, The Times reported.