Morgan Freeman insisted "I did not assault women" in a new statement issued late Friday in response to the sexual harassment allegations that surfaced on Thursday.
Freeman's publicist Stan Rosenfield sent a new, longer statement to Variety. In it, the Oscar-winner said he is "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," Freeman 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."
Freeman said that these jokes were did not always come across "the way I intended," which is why he apologized in his earlier statement 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," the Oscar-winner concluded. "I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false."
On Thursday, Freeman issued a short statement, apologizing to "anyone who felt uncomfortable" by his behavior.
"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 through his publicist. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."
One woman, a production assistant on the 2015 film Going in Style, claimed Freeman touched her and made comments about her figure almost every day during production. She claimed Freeman once "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear," but failed. Actor Alan Arkin "made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn't know what to say."
A senior production staffer on 2012's Now You See Me accused Freeman of sexually harassing her and her female assistant several times during the filming.
"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," the woman said.
CNN spoke with 16 people, and eight of them said they were victims of alleged sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman. They all said Freeman had a pattern of inappropriate behavior while filming, at his Revelations Entertainment production company and while on press tours to promote movies.
"[He'd say] things like 'I'd like to have an hour with her' or make vulgar and sexual comments about women," a former male employee at Revelations told CNN. "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."
CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, who co-wrote the report, claimed she was also the victim of inappropriate behavior by Freeman. During a press tour for Going in Style, when Melas was six months pregnant, Freeman kept looking her up and down. He told her a variation of "I wish I was there," Melas claims.