CBS hires law firms to lead Moonves sexual misconduct probe; embattled exec departs from outside boards

CBS says it has hired two outside law firms to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against network chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves.

Meanwhile, the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts has suspended Moonves from the school’s board and removed his name from the student-led newsroom, the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves CBS Media Center, which opened in 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Moonves also voluntarily stepped down as a member of Anita Hill’s Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Despite the sexual misconduct allegations, Fox Business reported Wednesday that Moonves still planned to speak Thursday during the company's earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts. It was unclear if Moonves will address questions about the allegations he faces.

CBS said Wednesday that its investigation would be led by Nancy Kestenbaum, of Covington & Burling, and Mary Jo White, of Debevoise & Plimpton.

The investigators will not only focus on allegations against Moonves, but at “CBS News and cultural issues at all levels of CBS the network,” the company said in a statement, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Last week six women accused Moonves of sexual misconduct in a report published by the New Yorker magazine, and more than two dozen company employees, past and present, detailed incidents of harassment, gender discrimination or retaliation at CBS, the report said.

In response to the story, Moonves, 68, provided a statement to the New Yorker saying, "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances."

He added, “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected -- and abided by the principle -- that 'no' means 'no,' and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career."

High-profile attorney Lisa Bloom tweeted late Thursday evening that she expected a “wrist slap outcome” for Moonves based on the two defense law firms CBS has hired.  

“These are the types of firms we fight on behalf of harassment victims every day. They attack victims and defend perps and corporate inaction,” she said.

If Moonves, who has been at the helm of the company since 2003, chooses to leave CBS, the longtime executive would reportedly receive a severance package of roughly $210 million, according to reports.

Fox News' Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report. 

Benjamin Brown is a reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473.