While he may have played God in a number of films, Morgan Freeman is being portrayed in a light that is far from holy. After a months-long CNN investigation, at least eight women have accused the star of sexual misconduct, from verbal harassment to unwanted touching. Some say his behavior was well known, while others said they never witnessed anything inappropriate and that he was always professional. Without admitting any wrongdoing, Freeman has apologized generally to “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.”
A Long List of Allegations
After CNN reporter Chloe Melas says she was subjected to inappropriate behavior by Freeman at a press junket, she reported the incident to her supervisor and HR. She also decided to ask around to see if other women had similar experiences, and found that hers was not an isolated event. While some people contacted by CNN praised Freeman as always appearing professional, eight women say they were subjected to harassment or inappropriate behavior, and eight individuals say they witnessed the alleged conduct.
A productions assistant described months of harassment, including Freeman’s attempt at lifting her skirt and asking if she was wearing underwear. Others said Freeman repeatedly made women feel uncomfortable by talking about their bodies, making sexual comments, asking them to twirl, or touching them. Coincidentally, he even allegedly looked one woman up and down, then asked her (in front of a group of men) “How do you feel about sexual harassment?”
#MeToo and Putting Up with Harassment
Some of the people CNN spoke to in their investigation revealed that they did not speak up about Freeman’s behavior because they feared for their own jobs. Some said they just tried to avoid the 80-year-old actor or dressed especially conservatively when he was on-set or at his production company. Sources also said there was no formal HR department at the actor’s production company and that even though there were often witnesses to his conduct, nothing was done because he was always the most powerful man in the room.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements against sexual harassment and sexual assault have gained momentum and notoriety with the onslaught of sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced film producer, Harvey Weinstein, and others. Many women have felt emboldened by the movement, finally able to speak up about harassment or assault they experienced or continue to endure.