The Les Moonves story is far from over. The CBS CEO was accused of sexual misconduct by six women in a New Yorker article this past July, and the mogul later resigned in September after six new allegations came to light. However, there was another alleged incident that had yet to be publicized — and it was the one Moonves was most scared of. In a newly published article in the New York Times, a thirteenth accuser comes forward, as well as her manager, who admits to working with Moonves to stop the actress from speaking publicly about her experience. Now that she's spoken, and deleted text messages have been unearthed, Moonves' $120 million exit package is in jeopardy.
Bobbie Phillips was 25 in 1995 when her manager, Marv Dauer, set her up on a meeting with Les Moonves at the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, CA. Moonves was interested in casting Phillips, and was talking to her about a number of Warner Bros. productions when he allegedly exposed himself.
According to Phillips, Mooves told her, “Be my girlfriend and I’ll put you on any show,” before allegedly grabbing her by her neck and forcing his penis into her mouth. They were interrupted by a phone call, shortly after which Phillips fled.
“I strongly believe that the sexual encounter with Ms. Phillips more than 20 years ago was consensual,” Mr. Moonves said in a statement to The Times. However, text messages reviewed on Dauer's phone reveal a long-running effort to keep Phillips quiet in the midst of the New Yorker exposés, in which Moonves dangled the possibility of TV roles to quell her rising anger.
Phillips had told Dauer that Moonves violated her a few days after their 1995 meeting, and requested Dauer keep him away from her. In 2003, she retired from acting.
Dauer didn't think of the incident again until 2017, when he began receiving calls from reporters looking into tips about Les Moonves' behavior. He had just started representing Phillips again when she expressed interest in returning to acting. Dauer informed Moonves of the phone calls, and the two developed a close relationship based on keeping Phillips placated because, as Moonves apparently said, "If Bobbie talks, I’m finished."
While Moonves and Dauer differ on whose idea it was to keep Phillips quiet by getting her an acting job, that became their joint purpose. Dauer told Phillips that Moonves felt "horrible" and wanted to "make amends."
"A central teaching in my life is forgiveness,” Phillips told The Times. “I told Marv to tell him I didn’t want anything...I had already moved forward in my life, and did not wish to go backwards."
However, Moonves remained worried that she would talk, especially with an exposé on its way. Time and time again, Moonves failed to deliver a role, meanwhile the #MeToo climate was striking a nerve in Phillips, who strongly identified with Oprah's 2018 Golden Globes speech that mentioned the possibility of unnamed survivors.
In summer 2018, Phillips was finally offered a guest role on CBS show Blood and Treasure, but she turned it down. It was a small role that did not pay enough. As calls from reporters increased, Moonves deleted his text conversations with Dauer and asked Dauer to do the same. He did not. The New Yorker exposé dropped.
"The moment I read that there were other women he had victimized, the light bulb went off," Phillips told the Times. "I realized I had been manipulated beyond words and that his outreach to me was phony, an attempt to silence me. This all caused me incredible pain, both physical and emotional, as I had to grapple with the fact that I had allowed the same monster to victimize me twice, in the 1990s and once again some 20 years later."
The fate of Moonves' exit package has not yet been decided, but this most recent account makes it more complicated. Failing to cooperate fully in his company's investigation by deleting text messages could count as being fired for cause, which eliminates his severance. As for Phillips, she's hired a lawyer to pursue claims of emotional distress and defamation against Moonves and CBS.
CBS declined to comment on the matter. Phillips' lawyer did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).