Morgan Freeman Hits Back at Harassment Claims

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Morgan Freeman is fighting back against sexual harassment allegations made in a CNN investigation, saying he “did not assault women” or “create unsafe work environments.”

In a new statement Friday night, the Academy Award-winning actor insisted he likes to compliment people to make them feel at ease, but said he did not act inappropriately.

“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,” Freeman said in his second statement since the story was published Thursday.

Read More: Morgan Freeman Apologizes After 8 Women Accuse Him of Sexual Harassment

“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,” he added.

CNN spoke with 16 people in its report – eight witnesses and eight alleged victims. They accused Freeman of misconduct on movie sets, at press junkets and at his production company, Revelations Entertainment.

The cable news network launched its investigation after CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas said she was harassed by the actor last year during the press junket for the film, Going in Style.

Melas – who co-authored the story – said she was six months pregnant when she arrived to interview Freeman and he told her, “I wish I was there” and “you are ripe.”

Part of the exchange was recorded, and CNN played it on air.

Read More: Morgan Freeman Ads Pulled Amid Harassment Allegations

Shortly after the story was released, Freeman issued an apology saying he would never “intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy.”

A day later he followed up with a longer statement.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Since the allegations emerged, Visa has pulled advertisements starring the 80-year-old actor, Vancouver-based transit system, TransLink, suspended voice recordings featuring Freeman and SAG-AFTRA said it is considering possible “corrective actions” on the lifetime achievement honor it gave him in January at the SAG Awards.

The actor’s full statement is below.

“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.”

–Morgan Freeman

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