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Anti-harassment groups share $20 mln CBS handout after Moonves exit

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By Jill Serjeant

LOSANGELES (Reuters) – CBS Corp on Friday named the Time’s Up anti-sexual harassment group and 17 other organizations that will share a $20 million donation stemming from the exit of its chief executive Les Moonves following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Time’s Up and the body representing Hollywood producers swiftly announced that they will spend their share of the funds on programs to increase diversity in the entertainment industry, and provide anti-sexual harassment training.

CBS said in a statement that the $20 million grant was part of the company’s separation agreement with Moonves and “was deducted from any severance benefits that may be due to him.”

Moonves, a major figure at the CBS broadcast network for more than two decades, was forced out in September after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Moonves has acknowledged three of the encounters but said they were consensual, and denied others. He was the most powerful U.S. figure to have been brought down in the #MeToo scandal that has roiled Hollywood, politics and boardrooms since October 2017.

The organizations receiving the CBS funds, including the #MeToo social media movement and the anti-sexual violence group RAINN, said the money would “drive real progress” in ending sexual harassment.

But they added in a joint statement: “We also recognise that these funds are not a panacea, nor do they erase or absolve decades of bad behaviour.”

The entertainment unit of Time’s Up said it would use its $500,000 grant on a mentoring program aimed at increasing the numbers of women and people of colour rising through the producer and executive ranks of the entertainment industry. The program will also offer financial support to low-paid juniors and assistants.

“There is nothing short of an urgent need to have the people who buy, create and promote entertainment content be more representative of the people we serve,” film producer Jenno Topping said in a statement.

The Producers Guild of America Foundation said it would use its $2 million grant from CBS to provide free anti-sexual harassment training and legal consultation on smaller, independent film and television sets.

RAINN, which also received $2 million, said it will support its national sexual assault hotline, which has seen a huge surge in calls.

RAINN said that by the end of December, more than 270,000 people will have received help from RAINN’s victim services programs in 2018, up more than 60,000 from the prior year.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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