Actor Morgan Freeman has been accused of sexual assault. A production assistant alleged that in 2015, while working on the set of Going In Style, the now 80-year-old subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her body on a regular basis. He would allegedly rub her lower back and even attempted to take a peek under her skirt. She claimed he "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear."
However, this was not an isolated incident. A senior staff member for the 2012 film Now You See Me told CNN that Freeman sexually harassed her and her female assistant on multiple occasions. "He did comment on our bodies... We knew that if he was coming by not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted," she said.
A total of 16 people have reportedly spoken to the outlet about Freeman's accusations, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior. The other eight claimed they witnessed Freeman's alleged behavior.
Following the report, the actor issued an apology in a statement obtained by Variety. "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Freeman said. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."
But hours after his inital statement, Morgan released another, lengthy statement where he tried to defend his character and he maintained that he was innocent in all of the claims made against him.
"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," the statement read, which was obtained by Us Weekly. "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,” he continued. “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," he continued. "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."
Freeman has been a well-respected actor in Hollywood for nearly 50 years and has held starring roles in Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby, and The Bucket List. He's even done voice-over parts for Dolphin Tale and Through the Wormhole, thanks to his distinct voice. According to his IMDb, he's currently filming The Poison Rose and Angel Has Fallen.
Fans have already taken to Twitter to voice their opinions, and many are concerned with how the news is being treated. "The fact that the outrage over Morgan Freeman is more 'Why are you doing this to him?' than 'Why did he do this to women?' says all you need to know about our society. The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the women and protect the man." Another agreed adding, "It doesn't matter if it's Morgan Freeman, or Kevin Spacey, or Ellie Wiesel, or anyone we admire: Sexual harassment is unacceptable."