ViacomCBS Probed Harassment Claim Against CEO Bob Bakish

ViacomCBS investigated an allegation that CEO Bob Bakish touched a woman inappropriately at a holiday party in 2016, Variety has confirmed.

The probe, which has been concluded, was first reported by the Information. The employee is no longer with the company but raised the complaint earlier this year.

“The Board takes any allegation of this type seriously,” a ViacomCBS spokesperson said in a statement. “An independent review of the alleged incident has concluded, and the investigation did not support the allegation.”

The complaint was made by a former Nickelodeon employee. She alleged that Bakish had touched her rear end at the party. Bakish was named interim CEO of Viacom in November 2016, and the position became permanent the following month.

Bakish ascended to the top job at the merged ViacomCBS in the wake of the ouster of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. Moonves was terminated in September 2018 after multiple allegations of past sexual misconduct were reported by the New Yorker. Moonves was also accused of creating a “culture of fear” and intimidation at the network.

ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone has been vocal about the importance of strong governance and of maintaining a healthy corporate culture at ViacomCBS. ViacomCBS is the rare corporate giant to have a majority-female board, as seven of the the company’s 13 directors are women.

Bakish has had Redstone’s strong support since he took over for former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who was forced out in a power struggle in August 2016. Bakish has been with Viacom since 1997, and was president and CEO of its international cable channels before succeeding Dauman.

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