Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Morgan Freeman Demands CNN Retract Harassment Story; Accusers Consider Legal Action (Report)

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*Morgan Freeman’s lawyer has asked CNN to retract its report about sexual misconduct allegations against the actor.

The 10-page legal letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, is addressed to Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, and claims the story has defamed and “inflicted serious injury” on Freeman’s reputation and career.

“At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24,” reads the letter from attorney Robert M. Schwartz. “CNN also needs to retract the portions of the story that concern Lori McCreary and apologize to her for defaming and injuring her.”

In the May 24 CNN report, eight women accused Freeman of sexual misconduct, describing multiple incidents of the actor’s alleged inappropriate behavior throughout his career. In all, 16 people spoke to the news outlet as part of the investigation; eight witnesses and eight who claim to be victims. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas — who co-authored the article with An Phung — was the only victim who spoke on the record.

As previously reported by THR, Freeman’s Revelations co-founder McCreary was on the receiving end of controversial commentary by Freeman during a 2016 Produced By panel, when the actor commented about McCreary’s outfit. “She wants to be thought of as serious,” he said in front of McCreary on the panel. “But you can’t get away from the short dresses.”

At the time, THR‘s reporter observed that McCreary “did not visibly react to the comment,” but a former Revelations executive told CNN in the report that McCreary was upset. “I tried to console her and she was clearly upset, and I think she was surprised and found it hurtful and embarrassing,” the person said. “She was devastated.”

Meanwhile, The Blast is reporting that several of Freeman’s accusers have consulted lawyers about possible legal action against the actor.

One of his accusers has reportedly spoken with Gloria Allred – the women’s rights attorney who has brought cases against Weinstein and Bill CosbySources say that other alleged victims have begun the process of hiring lawyers and that more women are preparing to come forward with accusations against Freeman.

The actor issued an apology following the reports, but later claimed it was wrong to equate the alleged incidents with sexual assault complaints like the ones made against Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and others.

Consequences were swift after the report; Vancouver’s public transporation system and Visa dropped marketing campaigns with the actor, while SAG-AFTRA said it was reconsidering the actor’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

In his statement issued on Friday, Freeman reiterated his initial apology to anyone he “might have upset, however unintentionally” by indulging in “misplaced compliments or humor” but also wrote that he was “devastated” that his life’s work might be undermined by the accusations.

He added, “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.”

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