Is Dov Charney The Most Disgraced CEO Of All Time? 8 Other Troubled Executives Who Got The Boot

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Dov Charney
Dov Charney has resigned as CEO of American Apparel

Dov Charney, the CEO of American Apparel who was ousted by his board of directors late Wednesday amid a probe into “alleged misconduct,” is hardly the first chief executive to shown the door, but he may just be the most egregious case in memory.

"We take no joy in this, but the board felt it was the right thing to do," board member Allan Mayer said in a statement.

While no specific incident was cited for why Charney, 45, who founded the mass-market fashion chain in 1998, was fired, the move comes amid numerous allegations that he sexually harassed a number of female employees over the years. In 2011, for example, five former workers filed two harassment lawsuits within three weeks against Charney. The suits were all dismissed or settled. In addition to the accusations, Charney has constantly had to defend his risqué advertising, which usually involves young females posing semi-nude.

His image has only become more controversial with his well-known antics, which include buying employees vibrators as presents, and asking them to masturbate in front of him, reports the Guardian.

"Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the company has grown much larger than any one individual, and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead," Mayer continued.

While Charney may be one of the most disgraced CEOs of recent times, he is certainly not alone. Take a look at these eight other shamed chief executives.

8. Richard Dare, chief executive of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, quit in 2013 over a past misdeed. In 1996, he was charged with an “attempted lewd act upon” a 15-year-old girl. He and the victim later married. Dare pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 60 days in jail in the criminal case. He was placed on probation for three years and was registered as a sex offender in California. After resigning from the symphony, Dare, then 48, said in a statement that he believed the “media attention to my family’s personal life will harm the organization and musicians I cherish, as well as needlessly embarrass my wife.” 

7. Lee Abrams, chief executive of the Tribune Company media empire, resigned after sending a companywide email containing links to lewd material. He sent out an apology about the links, which included a video called “Sluts,” but the damage was done. The memo drew numerous complaints to Tribune's human resources department. The timing also could not have been worse, as the email came one week after the New York Times wrote a severely critical article about the “frat boy” culture among senior Tribune executives.

6. Bernard Madoff, former CEO of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, was arrested in 2008 after being accused of massive security fraud. On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Madoff said he began the Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s, but federal investigators believe it could have begun as early as the mid-1980s. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison, and clients allegedly lost nearly $50 billion.

5. Rebekah Brooks, News International chief executive, resigned in 2011 following criticism about her role in the British phone hacking scandal. The News of the World tabloid was accused of hacking the phones of notable figures including Kate Middleton and Prince William in the pursuit of information for articles. Part of Brooks’ statement read, “As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place. I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.” After the scandal broke, the Rupert Murodch-run company folded the News of the World.

4. Richard Fuld was the final CEO of Lehman Brothers. He served from 1994 until the company’s collapse in 2008. That year, he was among 12 executives who received grand jury subpoenas for three criminal investigations related to the alleged securities fraud associated with the collapse of the firm. Many felt Fuld’s refusal to acknowledge that his company was in trouble, and his inaction in saving Lehman led to its demise. The company ended up filing the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history--$613 billion in debts outstanding.

3. Scott Thompson, former CEO of Yahoo, left his post in 2012 after discrepancies on his resume were revealed. He had only been working as the CEO for four months when Yahoo confirmed in a statement that he left the company. Thompson said that he held a bachelor's degree in "accounting and computer science" from Stonehill College, but his degree is actually only in accounting.

2. Kenneth Lay was the CEO and chairman of Enron from 1985 until his resignation on Jan. 23, 2002. While in charge, Enron falsified accounting numbers, cost 20,000 employees their jobs and life savings after filing for bankruptcy in 2001, and cost investors billions of dollars. Lay was charged, in a 65-page indictment, with 11 counts of securities fraudwire fraud, and making false and misleading statements. 

1. Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, disgraced the NBA after telling his mistress not to bring black people to basketball games. In the offending audio clip, which was recorded without Sterling’s knowledge and first published by TMZ, Sterling is heard castigating a female thought to be his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for posing for an Instagram photo with NBA legend Magic Johnson. The former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers was punished by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with a lifetime ban from associating with the Clippers and a $2.5 million fine. Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer has since signed the $2 billion deal to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from Sterling. 

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