(CBS) — Multiple women have come forward accusing Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment. Sixteen people spoke with CNN and said they either witnessed or were directly subjected to inappropriate comments, staring or touching by the actor.
Several witnesses talked to CNN and said that Freeman frequently made comments about the bodies of women working on set and at his production company. Some of were even female reporters. Four people who worked on film sets with Freeman said that the actor made comments about women’s clothing, their bodies, or inappropriately touched them; some women said they intentionally wore baggy clothes to avoid his comments and touch. They said they did not report the incidents because they feared for their jobs.
In one particularly egregious story, a former production assistant on 2015’s “Going In Style” said that Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” She said that though she kept moving away, Freeman repeatedly tried to lift up her skirt until his co-star, Alan Arkin, told him to stop. (A representative for Arkin told CNN he was not available for comment.) The woman also said that for months, Freeman would touch her lower back or make comments about her appearance.
One woman who worked for Freeman’s company, Revelations Entertainment, said when she first met the actor, he “looked me up and down,” and then asked her, “How do you feel about sexual harassment?” Another female employee at Revelations said Freeman constantly stared at her breasts to the extent that colleagues laughed, with one allegedly saying, “Don’t worry, that’s just Morgan.”
Two people told CNN that at a 79th birthday party for Freeman at the Revelations office, he would approach women and stare at them, very close to their face, but did not do the same for the men. One former executive said the actor would “stand maybe within an inch of their face and just look them up and down and not say anything, and then would move on to the next woman and he’d stand like within an inch of their face and look them up and down and not say anything, and it was really, really strange.”
Three entertainment reporters, including one of the authors of the CNN article, said that Freeman acted inappropriately toward them. The CNN reporter, Chloe Melas, said that when she interviewed him at a press junket for “Going in Style,” she was six months pregnant at the time. She said that Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas’ hand and did not let go and said several times, “I wish I was there,” and “You are ripe.” She said she reported it to CNN’s human resources department at the time, and then began investigating whether it was an isolated incident or if other women had similar experiences.
Freeman said in a statement provided to CBS News, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”