After news broke on Thursday that Morgan Freeman had been accused of harassment and inappropriate behavior, along with footage of his actions surfacing during a press interview, the actor stated, “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
Now, it appears that the CNN investigation with accounts from eight women claiming to be victims of harassment has become more serious. Credit card company Visa suspended a marketing campaign with the actor and the Screen Actors Guild is questioning whether action needs to be taken regarding the lifetime achievement award they presented to him in January. Due to the escalation of the accusations, Freeman has come forward with a formal statement, which was issued via his publicist on Friday evening.
“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.”
- Morgan Freeman