Actor Morgan Freeman, an 80-year-old Hollywood institution, has not only been ubiquitous onscreen for decades, but his voice is everywhere, from playing the role of God to voicing a transit system in Vancouver. His omnipresent nature prompts quite a realization with a cluster of allegations, gathered up by CNN in an investigative report, from at least eight women who allege that Freeman sexually harassed or otherwise behaved inappropriately towards them.
The CNN piece, which is coauthored by An Phung and Chloe Melas, was triggered by an encounter between Freeman and Melas during a press junket “more than a year ago” (before the avalanche of accusations against Harvey Weinstein fully became public). The report notes that three other entertainment reporters said they experienced similar treatment by Freeman during publicity events, who also now stands accused of a pattern of predatory behavior. Here’s what Melas alleges:
According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas’ hand, not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, “I wish I was there.” She says he also said to her, “You are ripe.” Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman’s remarks to Melas — “Boy, do I wish I was there” — but not for the rest. As is common practice with such junkets, Melas was the only CNN employee there at the time.
After this incident, Melas started digging. She spoke with many other women during a lengthy reporting endeavor. Of the eight women who have lodged accusations (with 16 total people coming forward to detail “a pattern of inappropriate behavior” on Freeman’s behalf from film sets and during promotional events), one production assistant says that she experienced months of harassment by Freeman on the set of 2015’s Going in Style. The woman accuses Freeman of unwanted touching and making inappropriate comments about her body while rubbing her back and trying to lift her skirt:
In one incident, she said, Freeman “kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear.” He never successfully lifted her skirt, she said — he would touch it and try to lift it, she would move away, and then he’d try again. Eventually, she said, “Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn’t know what to say.”
That’s only the start of the report. Others who spoke with CNN confirmed that he’d make vulgar remarks (like a “creepy uncle”) about women such as “I’d like to have an hour with her,” and they were shocked because they “just [didn’t] expect it from Morgan Freeman, someone who you respect.”
Several accusers gave CNN accounts of how Freeman would comment on their figures, and they purposely refrained from wearing form-fitting clothing around him in an attempt to avoid these remarks. The full CNN report can be read here, and these accusations will likely remind many of his rumored unsavory relations with late step-granddaughter E’Dena Hines. That subject resurfaced earlier this year during the murder trial of Hines’ killer, Lamar Davenport, whose lawyer said that while he was romantically involved with Hines, “[H]er grandfather engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship with her.”
At the time of the trial, Freeman greeted the resurrection of these decade-old rumors by denying any romantic relationship between himself and his step-granddaughter. In response to CNN’s investigative efforts during the course of the new report, a Freeman spokesperson did not respond to the mounting list of inappropriate-behavior accusations against the actor.