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Why Les Moonves Might Still Get $120 Million From CBS

“Ethical rules in New York and nationally require lawyers to give clients important information about a client’s matter,” Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics at New York University School of Law, told me. “A criminal complaint filed against Mr. Moonves was directly relevant to the board’s decision about his status.”

He added: “Mr. Aiello would have been expected to disclose the filing to the two directors who hired him. It doesn’t matter that the police later chose not to pursue the complaint because of the statute of limitations. The very fact that a woman went so far as to file a criminal complaint was itself important for the directors to know at the time.”

Mindy J. Spector, a partner and general counsel at Weil Gotshal, said that Mr. Aiello could not comment on his or his colleagues’ communications with the directors or anyone else at CBS, including Mr. Moonves, because of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality restrictions. She added that the firm stands behind the advice that it and Mr. Aiello gave the CBS directors.

In July, Mr. Moonves later told investigators, the actress’s manager had contacted Mr. Moonves seeking a job for her, two of the people said. The manager did not explicitly condition her continued silence on getting a job, but the implication seemed clear. Mr. Moonves spoke to a CBS casting director, who subsequently offered the actress a role, although it was a small one that entailed only a single day’s filming. The actress rejected the offer as inadequate, the people said.

Mr. Moonves did not immediately report this development to the board, the directors and their representatives told me.

A few weeks later, The New Yorker published what would be its first exposé about Mr. Moonves, containing the accounts of six women. CBS’s independent directors expressed full support for Mr. Moonves, but the board hired the two law firms to investigate.

In an interview with the two firms, in August, Mr. Moonves disclosed that he had sought a job for the actress, and his lawyers provided additional details, according to four of the people. (The actress has not been publicly identified.)


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