Morgan Freeman Claims He "Did Not Create Unsafe Work Environments" in New Statement

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In his second statement since Thursday's reports of harassment allegations, Freeman writes that he is "devastated" that "80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye."

In the wake of allegations that he harassed female journalists and staffers at his production company, Morgan Freeman has defended his actions in a new statement that warns "it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor."

In the statement, the second he has put out since an initial CNN report of misconduct on Thursday, Freeman writes that he is "devastated" that "80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye" by news reports of misconduct published Thursday. "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 continues.

In the Friday evening statement the Dark Knight actor characterizes himself as "someone who feels a need to try to make women—and men—feel appreciated and at ease around me" and therefore attempted to make lighthearted jokes that did not telegraph as intended. 

In the statement Freeman stands by his apology in an initial statement on Thursday but adds, "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 was first accused of harassment in a CNN story on Thursday, in which eight women alleged that they had been subjected to inappropriate behavior by the actor, and eight witnesses corroborated seeing him putting women in uncomfortable situations with remarks about women's bodies and looks. CNN issued video of the actor telling a pregnant journalist, "Boy, do I wish I was there" and offering remarks on another journalist's body in front of the cameras.

In the wake of the report, Vancouver's public transporation system and Visa dropped marketing campaigns with the actor while SAG-AFTRA said it was reconsidering the actor's Lifetime Achievement Award. Entertainment Tonight resurfaced video of the actor in which he asked one journalist if she "fool[ed] around" with men besides her husband, and lightly chastised another for crossing her legs while sitting across from him in a dress.

In an initial statement on Thursday, Freeman said, "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."

Read Freeman's full, second statement below.

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.

---Morgan Freeman

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