06 August 2018

Two law firms called into CBS internal harassment investigation

Leslie Moonves faces six accusers

Covington and Debevoise brought in by CBS to lead investigation into allegations against ceo for sexual harassment.

An internal investigation at broadcaster CBS for executive misconduct has called on two high profile firms to lead the efforts, following an expose in New Yorker magazine.

Six accusers

The CBS board of directors made the decision after the story broke that six women accused CBS chairman and ceo Leslie Moonves of sexually harassing and intimidating them while they worked at the company. After setting up a special committee to investigate the claims, the firm hired lawyers from Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton ‘to conduct a full investigation of the allegations in recent press reports about chairman and ceo Leslie Moonves, CBS News and cultural issues at all levels of CBS.’ investigation will be led by Covington’s Nancy Kestenbaum, a former prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, and, Debevoise’s Mary Jo White, former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman. 

Go-to firms

In the wake of harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the emergence of the #MeToo movement, investigations have become bigger deals, and Covington and Debevoise have both become go-to firms for high-profile misconduct investigations. The Weinstein Company hired Debevoise’s John Kiernan to investigate claims brought against the production company, days after that news broke. Ms White led an investigation into a professor’s alleged sexual misconduct at the University of Rochester, earning Debevoise $4.5 million. Ms Kestenbaum is currently representing the US Olympic Committee in connection with sexual abuse allegations. Covington’s internal investigations team has around 170 lawyers, including former US attorney general Eric Holder and department of justice criminal division head Lanny Breuer.