Morgan Freeman Asks Public Not To Equate 'Sexual Assault' With 'Misplaced Humor'

Morgan Freeman has released a new statement on the sexual harassment allegations against him with an emphasis on the difference between “sexual assault” and “misplaced compliments and humor.” This week, eight women accused Freeman of misconduct, including one journalist who claimed the 80-year-old shocked her with a “lewd” joke on a red carpet. New York Times writer Sopan Deb tweeted Freeman’s statement on Friday.

“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,” Freeman started off. “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,” he continued. “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,” he finished. “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.”

The alleged harassment reportedly occurred in a number of settings, including on set, during public events, and throughout interviews. One production assistant from Freeman’s 2017 film, Going in Style, claims the actor groped and harassed her on a “near-daily basis” while the film was shot in 2015. “[He] kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear,” she said, according to CNN, which broke the report.

Freeman also released an apology to Buzzfeed News on Thursday:

“I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”

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