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By Alex Johnson and Stephanie Giambruno
A woman who has accused former CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves of an inappropriate sexual approach said Wednesday that she later walked up to Moonves in front of his wife at a restaurant to mention the meeting in question.
“I did say, ‘I wonder if you remember me — I pitched a story to you many years ago,'” the woman, June Seley Kimmel, said in an interview with NBC News. “And he kind of reddened and said, ‘Yes, I do believe I do.'”
Apparently referring to Moonves’ wife, Kimmel said she added: “Then I just looked at her and left.”
Kimmel, a former actor from Delray Beach, Florida, who is now a social justice and animal rights activist, tweeted about what she called the “gross” 1985 encounter in December 2017.
Good time to say I had a pitch meeting w Les Moonves who was then head of development at 20th Century Fox. Went great, said we’d do it, then he stuck his tongue down my throat… ??
— June Seley Kimmel (@JSKIMMEL28) December 19, 2017
But her allegation didn’t reach wide public attention until she published an essay Wednesday in The Hollywood Reporter about the 1985 encounter during a meeting in which she was pitching a project to Moonves, who was then the head of development at 20th Century Fox.
Kimmel told NBC News that the meeting went “fantastically, it really did.”
Moonves “loved it — he literally was, you know, jumping up and down cheering,” she said.
At the end of the meeting, she said, Moonves “got up and came over and he hugged me, and I thought it was very nice, and then he grabbed me very hard, and he didn’t kiss me. He just stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
“I was really shocked, and it was gross,” Kimmel said. “It was very unappealing.”
The project was never made, said Kimmel, who she made it clear in a follow-up telephone call that she wouldn’t have sex with Moonves.
“When I didn’t have sex with him, that was it,” she said. “He wasn’t going to give me what I was there to get.”
Kimmel said that by dropping the project, Moonves “took money out of his shareholders’ pockets and out of his company’s pockets.”
“His penis came before profits,” she said.
Moonves resigned as chief executive of CBS in September after six more women accused him on the record of sexual harassment or assault, bringing the number of women to have accused him at the time to 12.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that lawyers hired by CBS to investigate the accusations were preparing to tell the company that it has reason to deny him $120 million in severance payments.
The Times said it learned of the investigators’ intentions from a draft of their report. In a statement, the investigators told NBC News:
“No findings have been reported to the Board. The Board has reached no conclusions on this matter. The investigators and the Board are committed to a thorough and fair process. No draft of the investigators’ ongoing work product has been shared with the Board or the Company. Our work is still in progress and there are bound to be many facts and assessments that evolve and change as the work is completed.”
Moonves’ attorney, Andrew Levander, told The Times that Moonves “denies having any nonconsensual sexual relation” and that he had “cooperated extensively and fully with investigators.”
Kimmel didn’t say precisely when the restaurant meeting with Moonves and his wife occurred. Moonves was divorced from Nancy Wiesenfeld and married Julie Chen, a longtime CBS personality who is the host of “Big Brother,” in 2004.
According to The Times, the CBS report cites the marriage to Chen as a “bright light” under which Moonves’ alleged sexual misconduct appeared to stop.
Kimmel said that while the 1985 incident “knocked the wind out of my sales at the time I could have used it,” she felt especially bad for “someone who’s in a chronically desperate situation and they have to say yes.”
“I think it’s time for this chapter in our long, long history — it’s not going to happen in my lifetime, probably — it’s got to end.”
Alex Johnson is a senior writer for NBC News covering general news, with an emphasis on explanatory journalism, data analysis, technology and religion. He is based in Los Angeles.