Leslie Moonves Accused of Destroying Evidence in Shari Redstone Legal Fight

Les Moonves Sexual Harassment Allegations
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutt

Embattled CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves has been accused of destroying evidence relevant to his legal battle with the company’s controlling shareholder, the Shari Redstone-led National Amusements.

According to an emergency filing Tuesday in a Delaware court, Moonves and other CBS execs, including COO Joe Ianniello, used a self-erasing messaging app. National Amusements lawyers claims that use of the app, TigerText, amounts to the “systematic deletion” of internal communications and documents relevant to the legal fight.

“The NAI Parties have been irreparably injured by the systematic deletion of highly relevant documents by key CBS senior executives over a two year period and face the imminent threat of additional harm unless the expedited relief is granted,” NAI lawyers wrote in the filing.

A CBS spokesperson on Tuesday defended the use of TigerText, saying in a statement, “Tiger Text was implemented by CBS’s Information Security Group for cybersecurity reasons following the Sony hack, and was not developed or used for any nefarious or sinister communications as some have alleged.”

CBS in May filed a lawsuit and requestion for a temporary restraining order to bar National Amusements from using its voting power in CBS to make changes to the company’s bylaws or board members. With Redstone publicly pushing to merge CBS and struggling Viacom, the possibility of Redstone installing new board members to CBS’ 14-member panel has loomed — creating a situation where Redstone could force a merger and push Moonves out. Moonves has fought against a reunion with Viacom, from which CBS was spun off more than a decade ago.

That conflict was heavily complicated last week by the publication in the New Yorker of detailed allegations against Moonves of sexual misconduct. The CBS board on Tuesday voted to take no action against Moonves in response to the allegations.

Also Tuesday, NBC News reported that the Los Angeles District Attorney has declined to pursdue sexual-abuse charges against Moonves. According to the report, an unnamed woman told Los Angeles police that Moonves abused her in the 1980s. Prosecutors have declined to pursue the case because the statute of limitations has expired.