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Morgan Freeman's lawyer demands retraction from CNN after sexual harassment claims


Morgan Freeman participates in "The Story of Us With Morgan Freeman" panel on July 25, 2017. (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Morgan Freeman wants a retraction and apology from CNN.

The Oscar winner's lawyer sent a sharply worded letter to the news network Tuesday calling its recent report on sexual report allegations against the actor a defaming "hit piece."

"It was the product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice," the 10-page letter obtained by the Daily News states.

"At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24," the letter demands.

Freeman's lawyer Robert M. Schwartz claims in the letter that Freeman was not commenting on CNN reporter Chloe Melas' appearance when he made a caught-on-camera comment during a press interview for his 2017 movie "Going In Style."

"Boy, do I wish I was there," Freeman said as he was looking at Melas in video of the interview released by CNN.

According to Schwartz's letter, the comment was referring to a story Freeman's costar Michael Caine recounted about how he once congratulated a woman on being pregnant when she wasn't.

"When Mr. Freeman said 'I wish I was there,' any reasonable viewer would have known that the 'there' to which he was referring was the conversation in which Mr. Freeman's friend, Mr. Caine, had embarrassed himself," the letter argues.

The letter accuses CNN of reporting its piece with a "bias" against Freeman and asks the network to also retract the portions of its story related to Freeman's business partner Lori McCreary.

"The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman's lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman's own public statements in the aftermath of the story," a CNN spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

"CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue," the spokesperson said.

In its exposé published last week, CNN said eight women reported being the subject of sexually suggestive statements or unwanted advances from the "Million Dollar Baby" actor over the years.

One 20-something woman told CNN that Freeman asked her if she was wearing any underwear and tried to lift up her skirt while they worked together on the set of "Going In Style."

The woman was not identified by name in the CNN piece.

After the CNN report published, Freeman, 80, released two statements saying he never intended to harass anyone.

"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," he said in his first.

His second statement was more forceful.

"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," he said.

Other taped interviews depicting questionable comments from Freeman did surface after the CNN report.

One showed Freeman asking "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent Ashley Crossan if she would "fool around with older guys."

Another showed the actor making a comment about ET special correspondent Janet Mock's skirt length and legs.

"I don't know how you all manage to do that all the time," he said. "You got a dress halfway between your knee and your hips, and you sit down right across from me and cross your legs."

Mock, a TV writer, bestselling author and transgender rights activist, told ET she considered the comments disrespectful.

"This interaction is an exhibition of the casual nature at which men in positions of power believe that everything belongs to them, including women's bodies as they're merely just trying to do their job," she said.

"For me, as a young woman of color, who is a reporter and a fan of popular culture, I was deeply disappointed that someone who was seen as America's grandfather was susceptible to such disturbing behavior and felt comfortable enough to do that as cameras were rolling, and that he could take claim of my body and look at it before even looking into my eyes," she said.