Scandal-plagued CBS hands out $20M to women’s groups fighting sexual harassment

NEW YORK — CBS is pledging $20 million in support of 18 organizations dedicated to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace as the network tries to recover from a scandal that led to the ouster of its top executive, Les Moonves.

CBS said Friday that the money will go toward helping the organizations expand their work and “ties into the company’s ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture.”

The money is coming out of Moonves’ severance package. Whether Moonves will receive the remaining $120 million of his exit payout hinges on the outcome of an investigation into his conduct, scheduled to conclude in January.

Some of the organizations that will receive grants include the anti-rape group RAINN, Time’s Up, Girls for Gender Equity (MeToo Movement), the Producers Guild of America, and Women in Film Los Angeles, according to a CBS statement. 

CBS will give a portion of the grant to two organizations, the Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) and the New York Women’s Foundation, in order to disburse smaller grants to additional organizations.

In a joint statement, the 18 organizations praised the donations as a significant step while also calling on CBS to disclose the results of the Moonves investigation.

The news came just hours after CBS confirmed the network reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement last year with actress Eliza Dushku after on-set sexual comments from Michael Weatherly, star of the network’s show “Bull,” made her uncomfortable when she was beginning a run as a recurring character.

A New York Times story published Thursday reported that when Dushku confronted Weatherly, she was then written off of the show out of retaliation.

The Dushku settlement re-emerged as an issue during the current investigation of Moonves, who was ousted in September after the New Yorker published allegations from 12 women who said he subjected them to mistreatment that included forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

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