Morgan Freeman demands 'immediate' retraction and apology from CNN

CNN reported on multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor.

May 29, 2018, 1:49 PM

Morgan Freeman is fighting back against allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

In a 10-page letter from his attorney, the 80-year-old actor has demanded an immediate retraction and an apology from CNN following its report last week in which multiple women accused Freeman of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The actor has denied ever sexually assaulting any woman. In a statement to ABC News last Friday, he said the report has "devastated" him and that "it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor."

He also issued an apology to "anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected -- that was never my intent."

Freeman took a stronger tone today through his attorney Robert Schwartz, who said in the letter to CNN that its report was a "product of malicious intent, falsehoods, slight-of-hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice."

A spokeswoman for CNN responded to ABC News with the following statement: "The unfounded accusations made by Mr. Freeman’s lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr. Freeman’s own public statements in the aftermath of the story. CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue."

Schwartz issued a statement after CNN's.

"We presented CNN with objective evidence, including videotapes and on-the-record denials by the claimed 'victims,' that the alleged incident that gave rise to the story never happened," he said in the statement to ABC News. "We proved to CNN, beyond any doubt, that the whole story was built on fakery. The credibility of the entire CNN attack on Mr. Freeman has now been undermined. And in choosing to ignore all of the evidence that we presented, CNN has confirmed our concerns about its reporters, its lack of oversight, and its gross misconduct in unjustifiably attacking Mr. Freeman."

In his 10-page letter, Schwartz accused one of the co-authors of the report, Chloe Melas, of pursuing the story based on something she believed Freeman said to her during a press junket for his film "Going In Style."

PHOTO: Actor Morgan Freeman attends the Going In Style special screening, April 5, 2017, in London.
Actor Morgan Freeman attends the Going In Style special screening, April 5, 2017, in London.
Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images, FILE

Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, told CNN's Headline News that Freeman said to her, "Boy do I wish I was there." She said he was also "looking me up and down."

But Schwartz said Freeman's "I wish I was there" comment was in response to a story his co-star Michael Caine had just told about congratulating a woman on becoming pregnant, only to learn to that she was not pregnant.

Schwartz added that any reasonable viewer of the interview would have drawn the same conclusion.

He wrote, "Ms. Melas nonetheless made a conscious decision to treat Mr. Freeman’s comment as a form of sexual harassment, and then set out on a crusade to vilify him."

He added that "no reader of the article can have any confidence that any of the anonymous sources, which make up the balance of CNN’s article, can be relied upon at all."

Schwartz also pointed out that WGN producer Tyra Martin, who was identified as one of Freeman's accusers, has publicly denied that the actor harassed her and has said CNN misrepresented her comments.

Martin, who interviewed the actor on nine different occasions, was described in the CNN piece as feeling "in on the joke" when it came to Freeman's comments about her appearance. She was also quoted as saying that only one of his comments crossed the line.

"When I stood up, I pulled my skirt part of my dress down and he did say, 'Oh, don't pull it down now.' That gave me pause but I never felt uncomfortable," the CNN story quoted Martin.

After the story broke, Martin told WGN, "Some misreporting got out that I was uncomfortable or that he had made sexual remarks to me every time. That’s just not the case. I never said that."

She told WGN the incident "gave me pause," but added, "I never felt uncomfortable or in danger."

Martin also denied being harassed. "I’m sorry for anyone who’s had an unfortunate experience or feels harassed or assaulted. That wasn’t my experience with Morgan Freeman. The interviews were always fun for me," she said.

Schwartz wrote that the CNN report has "inflicted substantial harm" on the actor. Last week, Visa announced that it was suspending its marketing work with Morgan.

"Mr. Freeman is being viewed in the global court of public opinion as someone akin to notorious harassers and accused rapists, such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. CNN had no justification for doing that," he concluded.

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