CBS has been rocked by serious allegations of misconduct made against its former chief executive Leslie Moonves and former anchor Charlie Rose, and this week, it found itself at the center of yet another sexual harassment scandal, this time involving actress Eliza Dushku.
The New York Times published an article on Thursday that reports that in January 2018, amid a national conversation around MeToo and workplace misconduct, the network paid Dushku $9.5 million to settle complaints for being written off the series Bull—something that happened after she had confronted the show’s star Michael Weatherly for making inappropriate comments to her about rape, a threesome, and her physical appearance, according to documents reviewed by the Times.
According to internal CBS investigation reports](https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/business/media/cbs-bull-weatherly-dushku-sexual-harassment.html) obtained and reviewed by the Times, Dushku had signed on to do three episodes of Bull, and there had been plans for her to join the cast as a series regular. However, reports show that she felt uncomfortable after Weatherly made remarks in front of the show’s cast and crew about her appearance, including saying on one occasion that “he would bend her over his leg and spank her.” Dushku also told CBS investigators that he made a crack about having a threesome with her and another male cast member, and at another point joked about taking her into his “rape van.”
Dushku reportedly confronted Weatherly about his behavior and, shortly after, she was written off the show. Believing she’d been forced off in retaliation for complaining about Weatherly, the Times says Dushku entered a mediation process with CBS. The network launched an internal investigation, during which the Times claims that CBS’ chief compliance officer Mark Engstrom submitted footage of Dushku cursing on set, purportedly to undermine her complaints. However, investigators wrote in their report that the outtakes were a “gold mine” since they “actually captured some of the harassment on film.” The network eventually agreed to pay Dushku roughly what she would have earned if she had stayed on the show for four seasons, and the terms of the settlement prohibited her from speaking publicly about her experiences.
In a statement to The Times, CBS confirmed the settlement.
“The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done,” CBS said in a statement. “The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time.”
In another statement, Weatherly admitted that he had made “some jokes mocking some lines in the script” that had made Dushku uncomfortable, and apologized for his behavior.
“When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized. After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza,” he said.
At least one incident on the set left Dushku feeling “disgusting and violated,” according to the investigation notes. Dushku’s settlement came to light as part of a company review conducted by the law firms Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton, and ordered by CBS, after multiple women came forward to accuse Moonves of misconduct. Moonves stepped down from CBS in September, but the company board still has to decide if he will receive a $120 million severance package that many women have said he does not deserve. CBS also fired “60 Minutes” producer Jeff Fager this year, following complaints that he had harassed women at work and sent a threatening text to a reporter. The incident with Dushku is another that points to a culture of harassment and misconduct at the network.