Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual harassment by eight women, including reporters covering his movies, according to a new report.
UPDATE 3, May 29: Morgan Freeman‘s lawyer, Robert M. Schwartz, has issued a statement demanding that CNN apologizes and retracts its story from May 24, which accuses him of sexual harassment. Schwartz claims that the article was “used to unjustly attack him.”
In a letter to CNN, Schwartz said that one of its authors, Chloe Melas, who claims that Freeman also sexually harassed her at a press junket, “baited and prodded” witnesses and alleged victims to come forward against Freeman. Schwartz claims that Melas’ report was fueled by “personal bias.” Details on what Melas claims Freeman said to her are provided in the original story, below.
UPDATE 2, May 26: Morgan Freeman has released another statement in regards to the allegations of sexual harassment that he is facing, via Variety. “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.”
UPDATE 1, May 24: Morgan Freeman has released a statement regarding the alleged harassment, writing, “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.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Sixteen people spoke to CNN about actor Morgan Freeman, 80, claiming that he engaged in what some called inappropriate behavior, and what some called harassment. Eight of the women interviewed said they were victims, while eight others said they witnessed the alleged misconduct. Together, the sixteen described alleged inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies, and at his production company, Revelations Entertainment. CNN reports that they reached out to “dozens more people who worked for or with Freeman” as part of their investigation. Some apparently praised Freeman, saying that they never witnessed any inappropriate behavior, or said that “he was a consummate professional on set and in the office.” HollywoodLife reached out to Morgan Freeman’s rep for comment but did not immediately hear back.
Three entertainment reporters claim that Freeman made inappropriate remarks to them during press junkets covering his films. One of the three journalists was CNN entertainment reporter and former HollywoodLife reporter Chloe Melas, who co-authored the outlet’s report about Freeman. Melas claims that Freeman made inappropriate comments to her over a year ago at a junket for Freeman’s movie, Going in Style. Melas was six months pregnant at the time, and Freeman, in a room full of people including costars Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, reportedly shook her hand, not letting go while allegedly looking her up and down repeatedly. Freeman allegedly said more than once a variation of, “I wish I was there.”
Melas claims that he also said to her, “You are ripe.” Cameras were on and recording during this exchange, and captured one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas — “Boy, do I wish I was there.” The alleged incident inspired her months-long reporting process with the report’s co-author, An Phung.
Morgan Freeman issues a statement after women accused him of inappropriate behavior and harassment.
"I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent." pic.twitter.com/otdkfI1phL
— Mary Ann Georgantopoulos (@marygeorgant) May 24, 2018
Four people who worked in production on movie sets with Freeman over the past decade alleged that he “repeatedly” behaved in ways that made women feel uncomfortable. In two such incidents, women claimed that Freeman allegedly touched them inappropriately. One of the women was a production assistant on 2015’s Going in Style, who claimed that Freeman allegedly tried to lift up her skirt several times. Three more women said Freeman allegedly made public comments about women’s clothing or bodies. None of them reported the alleged behavior, with most saying they feared for their jobs, according to CNN. Instead, they said they changed the way they dressed when they knew Freeman would be around to combat the alleged harassment.
The Going in Style production assistant claims that she was subjected to several months of harassment on set, alleging to CNN that Freeman allegedly subjected her to inappropriate touching, and comments about her clothes and body almost every day. Freeman allegedly would rub her lower back or rest his hand there, she claims. She told CNN in one incident, Freeman allegedly “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” He never succeeded — he would allegedly tried to lift her skirt, but she would move away, and he’d allegedly try again. Eventually, “Alan [Arkin, Freeman’s costar in the film] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say,” the PA said.