UPDATE: One day after being accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, Morgan Freeman has released another statement denying the allegations.
"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," said in a statement to E! News on Friday.
"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 has released a statement after being accused of harassment and inappropriate behavior.
After a month-long investigation, CNN published a new report on Thursday in which 16 people have come forward to share allegations against the 80-year-old Oscar winner. Eight of those people are women who are accusing Freeman of harassment or inappropriate behavior.
Of those eight women, two said they were victims of "unwanted touching" by the actor. One was a production assistant on the Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine movie Going in Style in 2015. The unnamed woman told CNN she endured "several months of harassment" during the production of the movie.
The woman alleges in the CNN report that Freeman "subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figures and clothing."
In one alleged incident, the actor "kept trying to life up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear," the woman claims, adding that he never successfully lifted her skirt.
"Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn't know what to say," she told the publication.
A senior member of the production staff on Freeman's Now You See Me movie also told CNN that the actor "sexually harassed" her and her female assistant on "numerous occasions," allegedly making comments on their bodies.
Freeman's alleged inappropriate behavior occurred on movie sets, during promotion of his films, as well as at his Revelations Entertainment production company, according to the accounts from the 16 people in the CNN report.
In response, Freeman issued a statement Thursday 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."
Additionally, SAG-AFTRA said the organization is reviewing the claims. In a statement obtained by E! News, a spokesperson said, "These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to insure a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry. Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union's most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time."
This story was first published on May 24, 2018.