Is Morgan Freeman Hollywood's Latest Sexual Harasser To Be Outed? 16 People Say Yes
Backed by an illustrious five-decade career that has seen him win many of the industry's most coveted accolades, Morgan Freeman is the most recent Hollywood heavyweight to be accused of serial sexual harassment.
The 80-year-old was outed in an explosive piece published by CNN last week, which was co-authored by a reporter who said experienced Morgan's harassment firsthand. The report described in detail the instances that the actor behaved in sexually inappropriate ways on movie sets, in the office, and even during press interviews.
If found guilty, Morgan will be the next public figure to join the likes of disgraced Hollywood headliners including producer Harvey Weinstein—who was arrested last Friday after more than 80 women came forward to testify against him—actors Kevin Spacey and James Franco, and comedian Louis C.K. as a sexual offender.
CNN reported that a group of 16 people corroborated the investigation's findings, half of which claimed to be victims of Morgan's sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior, and the remaining eight saying that they had witnessed Morgan's actions. Below are some of the testimonies being made against Morgan.
Image from "Morgan Freeman on race...and his birthday" taken from CNN's official YouTube channel
Chloe Melas, CNN entertainment reporter:
Chloe once interviewed Morgan at a press junket when she was six months pregnant. When she shook his hand, he reportedly did not let go and looked at her from head to toe repeatedly while saying "Boy, do I wish I was there" several times.
A production assistant on the set of Going In Style:
While working on this movie set, this young woman shared that she would deliberately try to avoid the actor as often as possible as he would constantly try to lift her skirt and ask her if she had any underwear on.
A witness to an intern's discomfort:
A male witness recounted how Morgan gave a young female intern a shoulder massage without permission. He recalls her looking visibly uncomfortable and how she "wiggled out of his grasp."
A former female employee at Morgan's production house, Revelations Entertainment:
During her work on the set of Through the Wormhole, Morgan, who she was also then meeting for the first time, greeted her by looking at her up and down. Surrounded by a group of men, he asked her how she felt about sexual harassment to which she sarcastically responded "I love it." Morgan then faced the men and said, "See guys, this is how you do it."
Tyra Martin, entertainment producer at Chicago's WGN-TV:
As a seasoned entertainment reporter, Tyra had interviewed Morgan on several occasions and had grown accustomed to his remarks on her appearance. However, she felt like he had crossed the line when she stood up to adjust her skirt and he commented, "Oh, don't pull it down now."
Image from "Morgan Freeman Is a Beekeeper Now" taken from the official YouTube channel The Tonight Show Starrring Jimmy Fallon
Despite the growing number of first and second accounts of his sexually inappropriate behavior, Morgan has denied all allegations. The actor released a statement through his publicist Stan Rosenfield that included his defense and an apology:
"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."
CNN's news report pushed credit card company Visa and SkyTrain, a Vancouver rail transit system, to suspend their partnership with the actor until a resolution has been made. It was not said whether Morgan will be brought to court or has sought out legal assistance for this matter.
Cover and content image from video "Morgan Freeman Re-Enacts The Shawshank Redemption | The Graham Norton Show" from YouTube channel The Graham Norton Show