CNN reported Thursday that eight people have accused Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or misconduct, while eight others say they witnessed him behaving inappropriately. Freeman has since released a statement on the issue, apologizing “to anyone he might have upset” but firmly denying the allegations that he created unsafe work environments or assaulted women.
The report includes allegations that Freeman touched women without their permission and made comments about the appearances of women he met on set, journalists, and employees of his company, Revelations Entertainment. The 80-year-old actor released a brief statement on Thursday night, 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.”
New York Times culture writer and standup comedian Sopan Deb shared Freeman’s new, lengthier statement on Twitter. Freeman said:
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.
Freeman has already experienced direct financial repercussions from the accusations. Vancouver’s SkyTrain metro rail system has “decided to pause [Freeman’s] voice announcements as part of a Visa ad campaign on our transit system.” Visa also said it “will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured.”