CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves has hired powerhouse litigator Daniel Petrocelli to represent him in CBS’ internal probe into sexual misconduct allegations reported late last month by the New Yorker.
CBS declined to comment. Petrocelli, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers based in Los Angeles, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Petrocelli is coming off a big win for AT&T in June, after a lengthy anti-trust trial in which the Justice Department sought to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Petrocelli led the legal team that countered the government’s claims that consumers would be harmed by the union of AT&T and DirecTV with HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner. The final ruling from U.S. District Judge Richard Leon was an unqualified win for AT&T — allowing the merger to proceed without conditions — although the Justice Department is appealing.
Petrocelli is known for taking on high-profile cases such as the wrongful death civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson on behalf of the family of Ron Goldman. He’s also repped former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling and boxer Manny Pacquiao. Moonves is believed to have retained Petrocelli earlier this month.
Moonves was accused by six women of unwanted overtures, most going back decades, and threatening to harm their careers when overtures were rebuffed. The fallout from the expose by Ronan Farrow, published July 27, forced CBS’ board of directors to initiate an investigation of Moonves’ actions and of claims that harassment is a problem in the workplace culture at CBS. Moonves has expressed regret for his past behavior toward women. The CBS board of directors has backed the executive who has led CBS to new heights since becoming CEO in 2006.
The sexual misconduct probe comes at the same time that CBS and Moonves are fighting a legal battle against its controlling shareholder, National Amusements. That case is unfolding in Delaware Chancery Court. Petrocelli is not expected to be involved in that case.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported Petrocelli’s hire.