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Thursday August 22nd, 2019 8:06AM

CBS defends handling of 'Bull' actor and misconduct claim

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — CBS is defending its handling of a sexual harassment claim against "Bull" drama series star Michael Weatherly.

CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl said Wednesday that Weatherly "owned" his mistake and was apologetic and remorseful.

Last year, CBS reached a $9.5 million confidential settlement with actress Eliza Dushku after she alleged on-set sexual comments from Weatherly made her uncomfortable.

Dushku, who was starting a run as a recurring character, was written off the show after complaining about Weatherly. She said he had remarked on her appearance and made jokes involving sex and rape in front of cast and crew in early 2017.

In renewing Weatherly's series, CBS considered the totality of the actor's long tenure at CBS, which included more than a decade on "NCIS," Kahl said. There were no complaints about Weatherly before or after Dushku's, he said.

"So, when we look at the totality of the situation, we felt comfortable bringing more back on the air," he told a news conference Wednesday to announce CBS' 2019-20 schedule.

The network has taken a number of measures to improve its handling of workplace misconduct, including enhanced training and an anonymous hotline, Kahl said.

It's an issue that has battered the company at the highest levels. Former CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, one of TV's most influential figures, was ousted in September after allegations from women who said he subjected them to mistreatment including forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

Moonves is fighting the company's decision to deny his $120 million severance package.

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