L.A. County prosecutors decline to charge Les Moonves with sex crimes, saying allegations exceed statute of limitations

Les Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS Corp., poses at the premiere of the television series "Star Trek: Discovery" in Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2017.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

The Los Angeles County district attorney has declined to file sexual assault charges against Leslie Moonves, the embattled chairman and chief executive officer of CBS Corp., saying accusations made against him date back three decades and therefore exceed the statute of limitations.

An unidentified woman reported the allegations last year to the Los Angeles Police Department. She had accused the network chief of sexual assault, assault and battery, and exposing himself, prosecutors said Tuesday. The woman alleged one of the incidents occurred in July 1986 and the other two on Jan. 1, 1988, according to the records.

On Tuesday, the district attorney’s office said the 1986 allegation was one of forced oral copulation.


“Victim encountered suspect through her employment in the television industry. Victim has reported multiple incidents of assault by the suspect,” prosecutors wrote in an official declination of charges, which was signed by Deputy Dist. Atty. Darci Purvis. “Victim disclosed the second two incidents to a friend approximately a year before making report to law enforcement.”

According to sources familiar with the LAPD investigation, the woman worked with Moonves in the later 1980s when he was an executive at the TV production company Lorimar. She alleged that he forced her to have sex with him in an office in 1986, and that two years later Moonves assaulted her and exposed himself. Detectives were able to confirm that the woman told a friend about the alleged assault and indecent exposure incidents in 1988.

Detectives had forwarded their investigation to the district attorney’s office in December and prosecutors declined to file charges in February, said Greg Risling, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

California eliminated the statute of limitations on its most severe sexual assault charges last year. Prior to that, the statute of limitations on those charges was 10 years.

Moonves did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The disclosure follows publication of a New Yorker article last week in which six women had accused Moonves of sexually harassing them and said their careers suffered after they rebuffed his advances. The incidents were alleged to have occurred in the 1980s, ’90s and 2006.

On Monday, the company’s board of directors took the extraordinary step of launching an independent investigation into the allegations.


The board stopped short of suspending Moonves while the review is ongoing, a move that could pave the way for an eventual settlement with the longtime executive.

Moonves issued a statement last week in response to the New Yorker article.

“I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said. “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.”

It was unclear Tuesday whether the woman who spoke with LAPD investigators was among the women featured in the New Yorker article.

Twitter: @lacrimes



3:45 p.m.: This article was updated with details of the allegations.

2:35 p.m: This article was updated with additional details from the prosecutors and a prior statement from Moonves.

This article was originally published at 12:30 p.m.