The LAPD said Wednesday that it has begun an internal investigation into a retired police commander who allegedly tipped off Leslie Moonves, then the CEO of CBS Corp., about a sexual assault investigation in November 2017, and who swore his “allegiance” to Moonves as he worked to keep the allegation out of the press.
The LAPD identified the retired commander on Wednesday night as Cory Palka, who left the department in February 2021 after 34 years on the force.
Palka’s conduct came to light on Wednesday as part of the New York Attorney General’s investigation into the company’s handling of the sexual misconduct allegations that ultimately forced Moonves’ ouster in 2018.
According to a 37-page report, Palka disclosed the woman’s allegation to a CBS executive just hours after she made the complaint. Palka later gave CBS executives a full copy of the confidential police report, including the woman’s personal identifying information, and took numerous steps to keep CBS apprised of the progress of the investigation.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore called the Palka’s conduct “appalling” in a statement on Wednesday evening, and said that an internal investigation had been opened into him and any other LAPD members who may have been involved.
“What is most appalling is the alleged breach of trust of a victim of sexual assault, who is among the most vulnerable, by a member of the LAPD,” Moore said in the statement. “This erodes the public trust and is not reflective of our values as an organization.”
Palka was a captain at the time of the Moonves investigation, and was commanding officer of the Hollywood Division, where the report was filed. He had a prior relationship with CBS because he had been hired to work as Moonves’ security aide for the Grammy Awards from 2008-2014, according to the attorney general’s report.
Top CBS security officials were able to make use of the police report — months before the allegations became public — to do records searches on her and her family in an effort to find out what it would take to buy her silence, according to the report.
Palka went so far as to meet personally with Moonves at a Westlake Village restaurant to update him on the investigation and the accuser’s contacts with the police and the DA’s office.
“During the meeting Moonves said that he wanted the LAPD investigation closed and discussed contacting other public officials,” the report states.
Palka was also in contact with Moonves’ lawyer. At one point in the investigation, he sent the lawyer a text saying that he would tell the investigating officer to “make contact & admonish the accuser tomorrow about refraining from going to the media and maintaining ‘her de ella’ confidentiality de ella.”
He also assured CBS officials that he had taken steps to make sure the report would not leak to the press.
“The key is that NO other accusers come forward,” Palka wrote, according to the report.
On Nov. 30, 2017 — 20 days after the report was filed — Palka assured CBS officials that the case was “a definite REJECT,” meaning that the DA would decline to file charges.
The DA’s office did ultimately decline to prosecute because the alleged assault dated from the 1980s and was outside the statute of limitations.
The woman, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, told her story to Ronan Farrow, who published a story about Moonves in the New Yorker on Sept. 9, 2018. Moonves resigned later that day, and was eventually formally terminated by the company after an investigation.
Palka sent a message to a CBS executive that day, saying, “I’m so sorry to hear this news Ian. Sickens me. We worked so hard to try to avoid this day. I am so completely sad.”
Two days later, he wrote directly to Moonves: “Les — I’m deeply sorry that this has happened. I will always stand with, by and pledge my allegiance to you. You have embodied leadership, class and the highest of character through all of this.”
Palka appeared as himself in two episodes of the Amazon series “Bosch,” according to IMDb. In 2021, Michael Connelly, the author of the “Bosch” books and an executive producer on the series, credited Palka for having “opened a lot of doors to our production.” Palka also received news coverage after he took a knee with protesters during demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.