Morgan Freeman has released a statement after in response to multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Following a month-long investigation, CNN published a report on Thursday in which 16 people have come forward to share allegations against the 80-year-old actor.
Freeman's alleged inappropriate behavior occurred on movie sets, during promotion of his films, as well as at his Revelations Entertainment production company, according to the accounts from the 16 people in the CNN report.
In response, Freeman issued a statement Thursday saying, "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."
Additionally, SAG-AFTRA said the organization is reviewing the claims. In a statement obtained by E! News, a spokesperson said, "These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to insure a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry. Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union's most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time."
Freeman denies sexually assaulting women. In a statement the Academy Award-winning actor shared Friday, he said that the CNN report has devastated him and that “it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor.”
Following the report, Visa announced it was suspending all of its marketing that features the actor’s voice. CNN’s story includes one movie production assistant who said Freeman unsuccessfully tried to lift her skirt. Other women talked about unwanted touching on their backs and shoulders. Mostly, Freeman’s accusers say he would comment about their bodies or clothes or make them uncomfortable by staring. A male former employee of Freeman’s production company said the 80-year-old actor would behave like a “creepy uncle.”
“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women, and men, feel appreciated and at ease around me,” Freeman said. “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.”
He said that he did not assault women, create unsafe work environments or offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. His reference to equating his behavior with others was unclear.