Les Moonves, the all-powerful chairman and chief executive of CBS, was ousted from the company he oversaw for two decades, felled by the same kind of sex assault allegations that have dogged Donald Trump. So far, the president has escaped justice, but is about to change?
More than a dozen women accused Trump of inappropriate behavior sexual assault throughout his career, including barging into the dressing room of teens participating in the Miss Teen USA pageant, which he once owned.
Trump was infamously caught on a 2005 open-mic audiotape bragging about sexually assaulting women including “grabbing pussy.”
But Trump insisted that every woman was lying and was elected anyway. Now one of those women, former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, is about to get her day in court. She sued Trump for defamation, and recently cleared a legal hurdle that will force him to submit to pre-trial testimony.
“No one is above the law. It is settled that the President of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts,” wrote New York State Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Schecter, rejecting a request by Trump lawyers to dismiss the suit.
Trump is also tangled in lawsuits filed by two ex-mistresses, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. But cases involve six-figure “hush payments” to keep them quiet about their affairs leading up to the 2016 election.
Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti is pressing to have Trump testify in his case. Daniels sued Trump in an effort to void her non-disclosure agreement. Trump’s lawyers are now trying to concede the agreement is invalid in an effort to end the case. Daniels is also suing for defamation.
Moonves’s pattern of behavior was remarkably the same as Trump’s.
Six women who had professional dealings with Moonves, said he sexually harassed them, according to The New Yorker magazine. Four of the women said they were forcibly touched or kissed during business meetings.
What’s more, Moonves used his position to threaten the careers of the women he allegedly assaulted. “He has gotten away with it for decades,” Janet Jones, a writer who alleges that she had to shove Moonves off her at a work meeting, the magazine reported.
Ironically, Moonves took on a high-profile role in Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, which began after movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was ousted from his company for his involvement in dozens of alleged sexual assaults over the course of his career.
Moonves is one of the media world’s highest paid executives. He earned an estimated $70 million last year. His severance, which could be worth $120 million, “will depend upon the results” of the ongoing internal investigations into his behavior, the company said.
For his part, Moonves is following Trump’s lead with blanket denials. He called the “appalling accusations… untrue.”
Weinstein may have been the exception to the rule that high-powered men are exempt from the consequences of sexual assault and harassment, but Moonves proves that people in positions of power are no longer immune from their bad behavior.
Now what about Trump?