Les Moonves' Sexual Assault Accuser Illeana Douglas: 'I Thought of Him as a Father Figure'
Illeana Douglas recalls Les Moonves allegedly "jumping on top of me and putting his tongue down my throat and pinning me down on the couch"
On Tuesday’s episode of The View, the actress — who is one of a dozen women to accuse Moonves of sexual misconduct — opened up about an alleged 1996 incident in which she claims Moonves sexually assaulted her.
“What it feels like to have someone hold you down — you can’t breathe, you can’t move,” she said. “The physicality of it was horrendous.”
CBS said in a statement to The New Yorker that Moonves acknowledged trying to kiss Douglas but denied “any characterization of ‘sexual assault,’ intimidation, or retaliatory action.” Moonves, 68, was removed as chairman and CEO of the network last month after six additional women raised accusations against him.
Speaking to The View panel, Douglas recalled auditioning for a CBS show show called Queens. After being cast in the project, she said she received a call that Moonves was “a little concerned” about her “attitude” and subsequently met with him in his office to discuss the matter.
“All I wanted to do was just tell him what a team player I was going to be and how excited I was,” she said.
“He started asking me a lot of personal questions,” she continued. “I was stumbling and fumbling and not really knowing what to say and that, of course, led to him, you know, jumping on top of me and putting his tongue down my throat and pinning me down on the couch.”
“When it starts to happen to you, as many women say, you just go on this auto-pilot,” she said. “I had heard about casting couch experiences, but I hadn’t come from that. I’d come from an artistic bubble of doing low-budget independent films.”
Douglas said she “respected” Moonves and “thought of him as a father figure” before the alleged incident.
“I would have had no concern [about] the fact that it was just he and I in the meeting, even though every meeting previously, because I had a development deal, there’d always been three or four people in the room,” she said. “But the purpose of the meeting was, ‘You and I should just get together and talk this out and make sure we don’t have any issues,’ and that was the frame of mind with which I entered the room.”
“Believe it or not, as crazy as it sounds, the human mind and the human body doesn’t want to go, ‘Oh my God, something horrible is happening to me right now,’ ” she said. “Instead you deny, deny, deny.”
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Douglas said once Moonves realized she “wasn’t participating,” he stopped — but allegedly told her to keep what had happened between them. When she got to her car, she said she began to cry before receiving a call from her manager asking how the meeting had gone.
“I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because Les just called me. … He said you guys had a lot of fun,’ ” Douglas recalled.
A few days later, Douglas was fired from the series due to poor performance during rehearsal: “I think what he’s referring to me is my poor performance when we were alone together in his office,” she said.
Moonves has denied all the allegations.
“I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women,” he previously said in a statement to The New Yorker. “In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation, and my career.”