This story has been updated:
Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman allegedly was behind at least eight incidents of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, CNN reported Thursday.
According to the report, Freeman allegedly subjected a production assistant on the set of his 2015 film “Going in Style” to harassment over the course of months, engaging in unwanted touching and comments about her body. She said Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” He never successfully did it and was stopped by co-star Alan Arkin.
Several other sources said that Freeman exhibited similar behavior on other sets as well with other women. Making comments on their bodies and making them uncomfortable enough to avoid wearing low-cut tops.
“We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted,” said one woman who worked on the set of “Now You See Me.”
Freeman, 80, is one of the most celebrated actors in Hollywood and has a career spanning more than five decades. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “Million Dollar Baby” and has been nominated several other times.
A total of 16 people spoke with CNN about Freeman, eight of them said they were subjected to either harassment or inappropriate behavior from the actor. But all of them described a behavior pattern that would support the allegations.
The news network reported that it reached out to dozens of people who work for or with Freeman and most said that they never witnessed anything negative about his behavior. But others did describe sexually inappropriate remarks or gestures by him.
CNN’s investigation came after entertainment reporter Chloe Melas — a co-authored of the article — claimed that Freeman was inappropriate with her at a press junket for “Going In Style,” making suggestive gestures and even commenting: “You are ripe.” Melas was the only CNN employee there at the time, the report says. After reporting the incident, she and her supervisor agreed that she would not cover the movie.
Freeman issued a statement through his representative shortly after the story was posted on CNN’s website. He apologized for the behavior he’s been accused of.
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the statement from Freeman reads.
“I apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent.”
The Vancouver, B.C., transit system had announced that Freeman’s voice would be used as part of a VISA ad campaign aboard the city’s commuter trains. But officials have announced that they would halt that action.
“In light of information we’ve learned through news stories this morning of serious allegations against actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a VISA ad campaign on the transit system. We will be in touch with VISA to discuss further,” TransLink said, in a statement early Thursday, according to the Vancouver Sun.