Leslie Moonves Steps Down From Board of Anita Hill-Led Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; David Livingston/Getty Images
Anita Hill, Leslie Moonves

In the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct, Moonves has decided to recuse himself from his role as a commissioner to Hill's Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

Hours after reports surfaced that Leslie Moonves had been suspended from the USC School of Cinematic Arts Board amid sexual misconduct allegations, the CBS chief is leaving an anti-sexual harassment commission chaired by Anita Hill, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Moonves has decided to recuse himself from his role as a commissioner to Hill's Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, a spokesperson from the Commission told THR on Wednesday.

Moonves was accused of sexual misconduct in a July 27 story in The New Yorker penned by Ronan Farrow, who also wrote the publication's exposé of Harvey Weinstein in October.

Hill's commission, first announced in December, was founded by four female executives including Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano's Nina Shaw, Kapor Capital's Freada Kapor Klein and Nike Foundation's and The Girl Effect's Maria Eitel. (Two months earlier, Kennedy had proposed the formation of an industry commission to combat sexual harassment at an Elle Women in Hollywood celebration.) The goal of the commission is to bring together entertainment-industry leaders to form a strategy with the goal of changing dynamics of power and parity in Hollywood.

Moonves and others in the industry, including SAG-AFTRA's Gabrielle Carteris, Paramount's Jim Gianopulos, Warner Bros.' Kevin Tsujihara, The Directors Guild of America's Russell Hollander and Netflix's Ted Sarandos, later were invited to join as representatives. 

Farrow's New Yorker story about Moonves included the allegations of six women, some of whom said that the exec had threatened to stymie their careers after making advances upon them. The alleged incidents occurred in a time period between the 1980s and mid-2000s. 

Moonves has denied participating in non-consensual behavior and intimidating women after they shook off his advances. "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," the exec said in a statement. "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."

Moonves was to stay on as CEO of CBS until the network's investigation into the allegations in Farrow's story is complete, CBS has announced.

Update:

On Sept. 9, after six new sexual misconduct allegations were leveled against Moonves by on the record accusers, it was announced that the CBS Corp. chief is departing the role he has held for more than a decade. In response to Moonves' departure from CBS, Hill released the below statement: 

Shortly after the very serious allegations against Les Moonves first surfaced earlier this summer, the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace immediately accepted Mr. Moonves’s decision to recuse himself from his position as one of our Commissioners. We also said that we would work with CBS to name a new Commissioner from CBS. We remain eager to fill this vacancy, and will invite CBS’s new CEO to serve as a Commissioner once the Board of Directors selects Mr. Moonves’ permanent replacement. The reason is simple. The Commission was created when 25 of Hollywood’s most significant institutions – including major studios, television networks, streaming services, music companies, talent agencies, trade associations, and unions – accepted the invitation to work together to set best policies and practices aimed at eliminating sexual harassment and bias in the entertainment industry. Given this ambitious mandate, it is vital that all of our Commissioners are able to speak for their respective organizations and are empowered to commit them to real action. It is our belief that CBS’s new permanent Chairman and CEO will have the requisite authority to function effectively as a Commissioner and to demonstrate CBS’s commitment to the Commission’s critical mission. That said, we expect to continue working with CBS in the interim, and we look forward to welcoming a new Commissioner from the company at the appropriate time.