More of Morgan Freeman's comments about women have been caught on camera
When this week disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was officially charged with the rape and several counts of sexual assault, many said that it seemed like the #MeToo movement had taken a massive step forwards. Finally, predators were being held accountable for their actions, amid a backdrop of women and men uniting for real change.
But sometimes, it still feels like with every new day comes another of our favourite celebrities being accused of sexual impropriety of some kind or another. Understandably then, many fans were disappointed when news broke on Thursday that The Shawshank Redemption actor Morgan Freeman had been accused of sexual harassment by eight women.
The accusations, initially published by CNN, included testimony from a young production assistant who said that Freeman subjected her to months of unwanted touching and comments about her appearance. She also said the actor: "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear."
After the revelations, Freeman was quick to a statement apologising any wrongdoing that may have occurred, intentionally or otherwise, saying: "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 apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected - that was never my intent."
However, now tapes have surfaced appearing to show a number of journalists also receiving uncomfortable comments from the star. In one, Freeman is seen hitting on reporter Ashley Crossan, who was interviewing him, initially asking if she is married. When she confirms that she is not he responds by saying: "Fool around with older guys? I’m just asking".
In another Freeman is heard saying to Entertainment Tonight correspondent Janet Mock: "I don’t know how you all manage to do that all the time … You got a dress halfway between your knee and your hips, and you sit down right across from me and cross your legs." Mock later said that she was offended by the comments.
After his initial note apologising for his behaviour, Freeman released a further statement saying that: "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 humour."
He also added: "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," going on to state that: "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."
Whether you view these as cheeky throwaway comments or a pattern of inappropriate behaviour is, I guess, down to you. But with more icons than ever being called out on their behaviour towards other, Freeman's story is proof that it's better to be safe than sorry.