Note: The following article contains allegations of sexual misconduct that some readers may find distressing.
Morgan Freeman has released a new statement in response to the sexual harassment allegations being made against him in which he reiterates that he "did not assault women" and once again apologises to anyone he may have upset.
Earlier this week, eight former colleagues of the 80-year-old alleged that the actor behaved inappropriately toward them, and said they didn't come forward before over fear of losing their jobs.
Freeman denied the claims in an initial statement through his representative on Thursday (May 24), telling Digital Spy: "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 apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected - that was never my intent."
In the second, longer statement that was released on Friday (May 25), Freeman continues to deny the allegations and adds that he's "devastated" that his life and career is being "undermined" by the reports.
"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 (via Entertainment Weekly).
"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. And that is why I apologised Thursday and will continue to apologise 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."
The allegations range from Freeman allegedly trying to repeatedly lift up the skirt of a production assistant on his film Going In Style to CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas's contention that he made unwanted advances during a film junket last year.
Following the claims, Hollywood union SAG-AFTRA is considering revoking Freeman's Life Achievement Award, which he was given at the Screen Actors Guild ceremony earlier this year, pending investigation.
The reports also saw Film4 come under fire from Twitter users last night after the channel's Twitter account promoted the broadcast of 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls, starring Morgan Freeman.
Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you've been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland's helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.
Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.
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