Morgan Freeman has said that he “did not assault women” as he issued a second statement in response to allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.
The 80-year-old Hollywood star was accused of repeatedly behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable on film sets and at his production company Revelations Entertainment, in an investigation by CNN.
The actor had initially apologised to “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected” following the reports.
In a fresh statement, Freeman said that he is “devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye” due to the reports on Thursday.
He said: “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 humour.
“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.”
Freeman said that the reported misinterpretation of his actions is “why I apologised Thursday and will continue to apologise to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally.”
He added: “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.”
CNN spoke to 16 people who described a pattern of behaviour, including a production assistant on the film Going In Style who alleged that Freeman had repeatedly attempted to lift her skirt.
He was also accused of making comments about women’s clothing or bodies, with some alleged incidents taking place in front of witnesses and even on camera, according to the report.
The news outlet said they had spoken to three entertainment reporters who claimed Freeman made inappropriate remarks during interviews including CNN reporter Chloe Melas, who was pregnant at the time and co-wrote the investigation.
She alleged he shook her hand and repeatedly looked her up and down and said “I wish I was there” and “You are ripe” less than a year ago.