Morgan Freeman releases statement after sexual harassment allegations
On Thursday, CNN revealed that multiple women had come forward to accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment on set, on press tours, and in the office of his production company, Revelations Entertainment. Their investigation found 16 people that opened up about Freeman's "pattern of inappropriate behaviour" that created a "toxic" workplace, eight of which have accused him of sexual harassment.
Many of these women said that they didn't report any misconduct at the times because they feared for their jobs, but have now described how exactly the actor acted around them within the CNN report.
On the set of the 2015 movie 'Going in Style', a production assistant on the film claimed that he "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear," she said, adding that his co-star Alan Arkin "made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say".
When Freeman made his appearances in the office, he was described as behaving like a "creepy uncle" by one male employee. "One time I witnessed Morgan walk up to an intern and start massaging her," he said. "The intern got visibly red and wiggled out of his grasp, it was awkward." You can read about the other allegations here.
Following these accusations, he offered a response to these claims yesterday. "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," his statement read. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."
Now, seemingly feeling that he had to clarify his previous comments and address the issue more thoroughly, he has released a second, lengthier statement. It 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."
It should be noted that while Freeman correctly points out the distinction between harassment and assault, none of his accusers have mentioned any assault - instead referring to his actions either as harassment or inappropriate behavior.
As far as apologies go, this seems to fall into the category of 'I'm sorry you're upset', rather than acknowledging any harmful actions.
No criminal charges have been brought forward against Freeman. Meanwhile, Harvey Weinsten - the disgraced producer whose accusations were at the center of the #MeToo movement - has handed himself into police custody this week, where he will be met with charges of sexual assault.