Amid a whirlwind of #MeToo allegations against Morgan Freeman, the actor and narrator released a second statement insisting that while he might have exhibited inappropriate behavior with women, he never assaulted anyone throughout his 50-year career.
Calling his behavior “misplaced compliments” and “humor,” Freeman said he’s “devastated” that his life’s work “is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye,” and that it’s not right to equate his actions with “horrific incidents of sexual abuse.”
“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women—and men—feel appreciated and at ease around me,” Freeman said in a statement released by his publicist Stan Rosenfield. “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 […] 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.”
A CNN investigation published on Thursday detailed eight women’s sexual and verbal harassment claims against Freeman. The women said Freeman created “unsafe” and “toxic” work environments.
Entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, co-author of the report, claimed that while interviewing Freeman at a press junket for the film, Going in Style, when she was six months pregnant, the actor told her: “Boy, do I wish I was there. You are ripe.”
Another woman, who worked as a production assistant during the summer of 2015, said Freeman touched her inappropriately and commented on her figure and attire. She chose to remain anonymous, but said Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear,” before adding that a male co-star had to intervene and tell Freeman to stop.
But eight other women interviewed for the story claimed to have witnessed otherwise.
Freeman issued an initial statement 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 apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
Freeman is currently narrating National Geographic’s documentary series, “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman,” and he also serves as executive producer of CBS’ “Madam Secretary.” Variety reports that National Geographic declined to comment on Freeman allegations.