LA ethics panel rejects proposed fine for ex-CBS exec Les Moonves over police probe interference

Feb 21, 2024, 11:13 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission unanimously rejected a proposed settlement between the city and Les Moonves on Wednesday, saying a tougher penalty is warranted for the former CBS chief executive accused of interfering with a police investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.

Moonves had agreed to pay an $11,250 fine to settle the ethics commission complaint, which alleged that he worked closely with a police department official to obtain information about a sexual assault victim’s confidential police report.

Ethics commission staff worked with Moonves on the proposed fine, but it still needed approval by the volunteer panel that oversees the commission, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The commissioners felt that the “extremely egregious nature of the allegations” warranted a stronger penalty, ethics commission president Jeffrey Daar said.

A Moonves representative declined to comment to the Times on Wednesday’s action.

According to then-Capt. Cory Palka of the Los Angeles Police Department in 2017 to get details of the police report.

Palka, who had provided private security for Moonves between 2008 and 2014 at the Grammy Awards, which CBS produced, notified network officials about the complaint against the executive in November 2017, the documents show.

Through Palka, they say, Moonves obtained an unredacted copy of the police report, which also included personal information such as the home address and phone number of the accuser. Moonves also met with Palka for an hour at a restaurant to discuss the complaint and ways to quash it.

Moonves was accused of three violations of city rules.

Palka retired in 2021 as a commander after nearly 35 years with the LAPD.

Los Angeles’ Government Ethics Ordinance governs the conduct of city employees and forbids them from misusing or disclosing confidential information acquired through their work.

Weeks after the #MeToo movement erupted with sex abuse allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2017, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb reported to police in the LAPD’s Hollywood Division that she had been sexually assaulted by Moonves in 1986 and 1988 when they worked together at Lorimar Productions.

Golden-Gottlieb, who went public with her accusations in 2018, died in 2022.

The police interference allegations against Moonves came to light in 2022, when New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a settlement in which CBS and Moonves agreed to pay $30.5 million for keeping shareholders in the dark while executives tried to prevent the sexual assault allegations from becoming public.

Moonves acknowledged having relations with three of his accusers but said they were consensual. He denied attacking anyone, saying in a statement at the time, “Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me.”

The Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file criminal charges against Moonves in 2018, saying the statute of limitations from Golden-Gottlieb’s allegations had expired.

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LA ethics panel rejects proposed fine for ex-CBS exec Les Moonves over police probe interference