Morgan Freeman is the latest powerful man to be accused of sexual harassment.
A CNN report details accusations of sexual harassment by Freeman of numerous women, including reporter Chloe Melas, one of the authors of the story. The actor, voiceover artist and producer did not comment for the story, but later provided a statement to The Hollywood Reporter apologizing to anyone he may have offended.
"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Morgan said. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."
The report quotes eight women who say they were harassed by Freeman and another eight people who witnessed inappropriate behavior by Freeman. The accusations present a pattern of demeaning sexual comments and unwanted touching, usually toward young women in subordinate positions like production assistants on set or employees of his production company, as well as toward entertainment reporters who interviewed him.
The accusations include multiple instances of Freeman ogling women and making comments like "I'd like to have an hour with her," often in front of other people. A production assistant on the movie Going in Style says that Freeman harassed her for months and on one occasion tried to lift up her skirt. Melas writes that Freeman told her she was "ripe" during an interview she conducted with him while she was pregnant.
Most of the women who say they were harassed by Freeman never formally complained about his behavior out of fear that doing so would hurt their careers.
"Morgan did things in a way that an older more established person can get away with because they have that power," a PA on the movie The Dark Knight who says she witnessed Freeman's behavior tells CNN. "They can't be replaced, but you can be replaced very easily, that's just kind of the dynamic on set. PA's can be replaced, grips can be replaced, electricians can be replaced, but the actors — once they're in, they're in. Had it been somebody else on the crew... I would feel comfortable reporting them because I wouldn't feel like my job would be in danger by reporting them, but 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 trouble maker and you'll get fired because you're just a PA."
Freeman, whose movies have collectively grossed over $4 billion, produces shows like Madam Secretary and has been a constant presence in film and television since rising to fame in the '70s as a cast member on the children's show The Electric Company, is the latest Hollywood power player to be accused of sexual misconduct in the post-Harvey Weinstein #MeToo era, where men are starting to be held accountable for their inappropriate actions toward women.