Morgan Freeman is speaking out again amid reports of his allegedly inappropriate sexual behavior towards women.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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 humor.”
The actor, 80, added, “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 apologized Thursday and will continue to apologize 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.”
“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the Oscar winner said in a statement released Thursday. “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”
According to a new investigation by CNN, the actor’s alleged inappropriate behavior occurred on-set with female members of the production staff, with employees at Revelations Entertainment (the production company the 80-year-old started in 1996 with business partner Lori McCreary) — and with reporters.
One of the women, who was working as a production assistant at the time, allegedly accused Freeman of frequently touching her and making unwanted comments about her appearance in 2015, during the filming of Going in Style. She spoke anonymously to the outlet.
“It was constant comments about the way I looked,” she told CNN.
CNN reported that the woman, who was in her 20s at the time and has since left the film industry, detailed one incident where Freeman allegedly “kept trying to lift my skirt up” and asked “if I was wearing underwear.” She went on to claim that Freeman only stopped once his costar Alan Arkin told him to.
Maggie Parker, an entertainment journalist and a frequent contributor to PEOPLE, has also opened up about what she felt was an inappropriate interaction with the actor at the premiere of his film Now You See Me in 2013, making her the seventeenth woman to accuse the actor of such behavior.