Morgan Freeman released a second statement denying the sexual harassment allegations made against him on Friday, May 25. The actor shared the apology through his publicist, Stan Rosenfield, after eight women came forward with accusations against him on Thursday, May 24.
“I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday’s media reports,” the Just Getting Started actor, 80, said in his statement.
“All victims of assault and harassment deserve to be heard. And we need to listen to them. But it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor,” he continued. “I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women—and men—feel appreciated and at ease around me. As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way.”
“Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologized Thursday and will continue to apologize to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally,” the Oscar winner added. “But I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”
The statement comes after CNN published an investigative report on Thursday, in which 16 people claimed to have experienced or witnessed the Bruce Almighty actor’s alleged misconduct. Freeman denied the allegations in a statement to Us Weekly later that day. “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” he said at the time. “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
In the CNN report, a production assistant for the movie Going in Style claimed she endured unwanted touching and inappropriate comments from the actor. A senior member of the production staff for Now You See Me claimed that Freeman made comments about her and her female assistant’s bodies, and three entertainment reporters claimed he also made inappropriate remarks toward them at press events.
In light of the controversy, SAG-AFTRA is reconsidering Freeman’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to ensure a safe work environment for the professions in this industry,” a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said in a statement to Us on Thursday. “Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union’s most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time.”
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