The LAPD said Wednesday it had opened an internal investigation into a retired police commander who allegedly told then-CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves of a November 2017 sexual assault investigation, and who swore his “allegiance” to Moonves as he worked to keep the allegation out of the press.
The LAPD identified the retired commander Wednesday night as Cory Palka, who left the department in February 2021 after 34 years on the force.
Palka’s conduct came to light Wednesday as part of the New York Attorney General’s investigation into the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations that ultimately forced Moonves’ ousting in 2018.
According to a 37-page report, Palka disclosed the woman’s allegation to a CBS executive just hours after filing the lawsuit. Palka then gave CBS executives a complete copy of the confidential police report, including the woman’s personally identifying information, and took numerous steps to keep CBS informed of the progress of the investigation.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore called Palka’s conduct “appalling” in a statement late Wednesday, and said 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 sexual assault victim, who is among the most vulnerable, by a member of the LAPD,” Moore said in the statement. “It erodes public trust and does not reflect our values as an organization.”
Palka was captain at the time of the Moonves investigation and commander of the Hollywood Division, where the report was filed. He had a prior relationship with CBS because he was hired to work as Moonves’ security assistant for the Grammy Awards from 2008 to 2014, according to the attorney general’s report.
Senior CBS security officials were able to use the police report – months before the allegations went public – to search for records on her and her family in an effort to find out what it would take to buy his silence, according to the report.
Palka went so far as to personally meet Moonves at a restaurant in Westlake Village to update him on the investigation and the accuser’s contacts with the police and the prosecutor’s office.
“During the meeting, Moonves said he wanted the LAPD’s investigation closed and discussed contacting other public officials,” the report said.
Palka was also in contact with Moonves’ lawyer. At one point during the investigation, he texted the attorney saying he would tell the investigator to “get in touch and notify the accuser tomorrow to refrain from going to the media and maintain ‘his’ confidentiality”.
He also assured CBS officials that he had taken steps to ensure the report would not be leaked 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 final REJECTION,” meaning the DA would decline to press charges.
The district attorney’s office ultimately declined 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 an article about Moonves in The New Yorker on September 9, 2018. Moonves resigned later that day and was eventually officially fired by the company after investigation.
Palka messaged a CBS executive that day, saying, “So sorry to hear this news Ian. That makes me sick. We have worked so hard to try to avoid this day. I’m so sad.
Two days later, he wrote directly to Moonves: “The — I am deeply sorry that this happened. I will always be by your side, by your side and pledge my allegiance to you. You embodied leadership, class, and the highest character through it all.
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 executive producer of the series, credited Palka for “opening a lot of doors for our production”. Palka also received media coverage after kneeling with protesters during protests over the 2020 killing of George Floyd.