Morgan Freeman Accused of Sexually Harassing Multiple Women
Update: This article has been updated with statements from Morgan Freeman and information regarding a letter sent to CNN from Freeman’s lawyers.
On Thursday, CNN reported that actor Morgan Freeman allegedly sexually harassed or displayed inappropriate behavior toward eight women. Eight others CNN talked to witnessed the behavior.
One of the women Freeman is accused of harassing was the CNN article’s co-author, who then launched an investigation that led to finding the other women. Her encounter was at a press appearance for one of Freeman’s movies and was partially caught on camera.
Most of the women in the article declined to speak on record for fear of losing jobs and other retribution. Some were production assistants on movies. Others were employees at Freeman’s production company, Revelations Entertainment.
The alleged behavior described includes sexual comments made toward the women, attempts to lift skirts and other inappropriate touching. One former male employee of Freeman’s production company told CNN about Freeman on set:
[He’d say] things like ‘I’d like to have an hour with her’ or make vulgar and sexual comments about women,” the former employee said. “He would be verbally inappropriate and it was just shocking. You’re more shocked than anything because it’s hard to have the wherewithal to say to him ‘That’s inappropriate.’ You’re just like ‘whoa.’ It’s hard because on any set he is the most powerful person on it. It’s weird because you just don’t expect it from Morgan Freeman, someone who you respect.
Some of the women said they changed their attire when they were around Freeman in an attempt to quell unwanted attention. One production assistant said she wore a T-shirt over her dress when Freeman was around, and then Freeman told the woman in front of others that she shouldn’t be wearing the T-shirt.
“Morgan did things in a way that an older more established person can get away with because they have that power,” another production assistant told CNN. “They can’t be replaced, but you can be replaced very easily, that’s just kind of the dynamic on set…if you report somebody like Morgan Freeman that the movie would lose a lot of money by replacing them or getting them in trouble, then you’re the troublemaker and you’ll get fired because you’re just a PA.”
Following the CNN article, Freeman sent out a statement to multiple news outlets that read, “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.”
On Friday, he sent another statement.
“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,” Freeman said. “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.”
The following Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Freeman’s lawyer sent a 10-page letter to the CNN president, stating that CNN had defamed the actor and needs to retract the article and apologize to Freeman.
If this news is hard for you, know you are not alone. You don’t have to keep your assault or trauma to yourself. If family and friends aren’t receptive to your needs, look for a local support group in your area. You can also work with a therapist one-on-one if you prefer a more private setting. For those who can’t afford therapy, RAINN offers free, confidential crisis counseling for trauma survivors or you can text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.
Image via Creative Commons/Nathan Congleton