By Lynette Rice
May 25, 2018 at 11:42 PM EDT
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Morgan Freeman released a new statement late Friday in the wake of multiple allegations of harassment, saying he “did not assault women” nor “create unsafe work environments.”

Sixteen individuals came forward Thursday with allegations of sexual misconduct and “inappropriate behavior” against the 80-year-old actor in a CNN story. After releasing a brief apology via his representative (“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy”), the 80-year-old actor issued a longer one before the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“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 reads. “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.”

After the CNN article was published, the Screen Actors Guild is reportedly deciding whether to revoke on the recent lifetime achievement award it gave to Freeman. “These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to insure (sic) a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry,” the union said in a statement obtained by CNN. “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.”

CNN also reported that Visa suspended its marketing campaign featuring Freeman. “We are aware of the allegations that have been made against Mr. Freeman. At this point, Visa will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured,” reads a company statement issued on Thursday

Freeman is currently an executive producer on the CBS drama Madam Secretary and has several films in various stages of production in the works, including the Disney fantasy The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the Olympus Has Fallen sequel, Angel Has Fallen.

 

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