Soon after CNN published a report detailing sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior allegations against Morgan Freeman on May 24, the actor has responded. In a statement from his representative released to Bustle, Morgan Freeman responded to the allegations. The statement reads:
Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.
UPDATE: On Friday, May 25, Freeman's rep released a second statement to Bustle on the actor's behalf that reads:
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.
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE 2: On May 29, a rep for Freeman released a letter to Bustle that Freeman's lawyer sent to CNN. Freeman's lawyer claims that CNN's report was "the product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice," and asks for an immediate retraction and apology.
UPDATE 3: Later on May 29, CNN responded to Freeman's lawyer with the following statement via Deadline:
The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman’s lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story. CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue.
UPDATE 4: Freeman's lawyer released the following statement regarding CNN to Bustle:
We presented CNN with objective evidence, including videotapes and on-the-record denials by the claimed “victims,” that the alleged incident that gave rise to the story never happened. We proved to CNN, beyond any doubt, that the whole story was built on fakery. The credibility of the entire CNN attack on Mr. Freeman has now been undermined. And in choosing to ignore all of the evidence that we presented, CNN has confirmed our concerns about its reporters, its lack of oversight, and its gross misconduct in unjustifiably attacking Mr. Freeman.
EARLIER: CNN's report details multiple allegations of sexual harassment from over the years. The publication reported that they spoke with 16 individuals for their investigation, with eight of them being alleged victims of harassment or inappropriate behavior.
CNN’s investigation began when the co-author of the piece, Chloe Melas, was allegedly involved in an inappropriate situation with Freeman during a press junket. During the time of the junket, which was for his film, Going In Style, Melas was six months pregnant. She alleges that when she greeted the actor, who was there with his co-stars Alan Arkin and Michael Caine, and shook his hand that he would not let go as he looked her up and down. She claims that he said a variation of “I wish I was there,” more than once during the interaction and also allegedly said, “You are so ripe.” (Bustle reached out to a rep for Caine, but did not receive a response; a rep for Arkin had no comment at this time.)
After the alleged incident, Melas contacted CNN’s human resources department, who, in turn, contacted Warner Bros. human resources department (since the company produced and distributed Going In Style). CNN reports that at the time, Warner Bros. could not corroborate her account. When asked for comments about CNN’s report, Warner Bros. “confirmed that what Melas was told was accurate.”
One alleged victim, who was a production assistant on Freeman’s film Going In Style, claimed that he harassed her multiple times on the set of the movie. She claimed to CNN, “It was constant comments about the way I looked.” She detailed an alleged incident, in which she says was wearing a T-shirt over her dress as the dress had an exposed back. She claimed, “Morgan said to me that I shouldn't be wearing the shirt over my dress."
Another production assistant, who said that Freeman’s alleged harassment was a persistent issue on set, corroborated this claim. She claimed that the alleged T-shirt incident occurred in front of a group of people and that another woman chastised the Shawshank Redemption star for his comment.
Another woman, who was a manager at Freeman’s production company, Revelations, alleged sexual harassment against the actor. She claimed to CNN that, at times, he would "come over to my desk to say hi and he'd just stand there and stare at me. He would stare at my breasts." She went on to claim that she would alter her appearance and avoid wearing skirts so as to not draw attention to herself when the actor was in the office.
Some of the publication’s sources also claim that Freeman’s co-producing partner at Revelations, Lori McCreary, was a victim of his harassment. When he took to the stage for an event at Produced By’s 2016 conference, he described McCreary’s state of dress when he first met her, as The Hollywood Reporter noted. He said, in front of his producing partner, “She had on a dress cut to here." He continued, “She wants to be thought of as serious. But, you can't get away from the short dresses."
In response to those comments, he explained the situation to Savannah Guthrie during an appearance on the Today show. “It was just something I said in jest about when I first met her, it was more than 20 years ago. How is that news?” he said.
While Morgan's statement in response to the claims doesn't bring up any allegations in particular, it does offer an apology to "anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.