An investigation into the culture at CBS, prompted by sexual misconduct claims against former CBS chief Leslie Moonves, has turned up more evidence of mistreatment at the network. This time, the complaint involves “Bull” star Michael Weatherly, known for his earlier work on another network hit, “NCIS.”
A New York Times story published Thursday shares details about a secret settlement made between CBS and “Bull” actress Eliza Dushku. The story says that Dushku, who complained about feeling “violated” on the set of the series, received a $9.5 million payout. CBS confirmed the existence of the settlement Thursday to USA TODAY.
Dushku, whose credits include “Dollhouse,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Bring It On,” had joined the show for three episodes at the end of the first season in March 2017 and was set to become a full-time cast member. However, as the report says, Dushku confronted the show’s main star, Michael Weatherly, for remarks he made that left her feeling uncomfortable. She was then written off of the show.
She claims “disgusting” behavior that included Weatherly saying he wanted to spank her and have a threesome, both in front of the cast and crew of “Bull,” which is now in its third season. According to the complaint, Weatherly also called a windowless van “a rape van.” Weatherly told The New York Times that his comments were meant as jokes.
The details are contained in a draft report of a CBS Corp.-authorized investigation that was reviewed by the New York Times. The investigation was started to examine sexual misconduct allegations against then-CBS chief Moonves, who was accused publicly of sexual misconduct this summer in August and resigned under pressure in September. It also focused on the overall culture at the network.
The investigators’ report concludes the settlement with Dushku was “not only misguided, but emblematic of larger problems at CBS.”
CBS confirmed the existence of Dushku’s settlement in a statement shared with USA TODAY, and says that the $9.5 million figure reflected what Dushku would have made had she stayed on as a series regular.
“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. The settlement of these claims,” says CBS, “was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time.”
Before the details of the “Bull” matter were made public, Weatherly was asked about the situation at CBS after the allegations against Moonves led to the CEO’s departure.
“Not to get into any of the ifs, ands or buts about what is right or wrong and where it comes from,” Weatherly told the Associated Press. “Professionally I owe a great part of my career to the decision-making of the higher-ups at the company. It’s a complicated place to be.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Michael Weatherly and to Eliza Dushku, who did not comment for the New York Times article.
Contributing: Bill Keveney
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