Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman said he is “devastated” over the allegations suggesting he was inappropriate toward women and denied creating an unsafe workplace.
An investigation published by CNN earlier this week details the 80-year-old actor’s unwanted advances on women during press tours, on movie sets and at his own production company, Revelations Entertainment.
Freeman issued a statement after the initial report, apologizing to those “who felt uncomfortable or disrespected” by his behavior. In a second statement released by his publicist, Freeman again apologized but emphasized that he “did not create unsafe work environment” and “did not assault women.”
“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,” he said.
“All the victims of sexual 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.”
Freeman added he would often “joke with and compliment women” in what he felt to be a “light-hearted and humorous way” in an effort to make them feel more comfortable around him.
“Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended,” he continued. “And that is why I apologized Thursday and 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.”
Eight women have come forward with allegations against Freeman, including a production assistant who accused him of frequently touching her and making unwanted comments about her appearance on the set of “Going in Style” in 2015.
“It was constant comments about the way I look,” she told CNN.
The woman, who was in her 20s at the time, also recalled a particularly shocking incident where Freeman “kept trying to lift my skirt up” and asked “if I was wearing any underwear.”
She noted his advances finally stopped at the request of his co-star, Alan Arkin.
The accusations against the award-winning actor are just the latest in a slew of allegations that have engulfed actors and filmmakers in Hollywood.