Morgan Freeman has issued a second statement following allegations of sexual harassment, with the actor apologizing for his behavior but firmly denying that he assaulted 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," Freeman wrote late Friday night.
"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."
On Thursday, eight women – including Chloe Melas, who co-authored the CNN report detailing Freeman's pattern of inappropriate comments and unwanted touching – stepped forward with allegations against the Oscar-winning actor. One employee of Freeman's Revelations Entertainment compared Freeman's behavior to a "creepy uncle," with the actor allegedly staring at women's breasts, asking them to twirl and offering massages.
"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," Freeman said of the accusations.
"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," Freeman 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."
In response to the CNN report, Freeman previously said in a statement, "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."