LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An attorney for Morgan Freeman is demanding an apology and a retraction from CNN for an article alleging the Oscar-winning actor of sexual harassment against multiple women.
A letter published by The Hollywood Reporter dated May 29 addressed to CNN President Jeff Zucker claims the article – in which eight women accused Freeman of “inappropriate behavior” and “harassment” – was “used to unjustly attack” him, according to attorney Robert M. Schwartz.READ MORE: Clippers Lose to Cavaliers 92-79
According to Schwartz, CNN reporter Chloe Melas, who authored the article along with An Phung, “baited and prodded supposed ‘witnesses’ to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him.”
“Thus, 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,” wrote Schwartz.
Melas alleged Freeman harassed her during a press junket for “Going In Style” when she says he shook her hand and, not letting go, repeatedly eyed her while saying “more than once” a variation of “I wish I was there.”
But in a clip aired during the segment with Melas and Phung, Freeman is seen uttering the same phrase in response to a story told by co-star Michael Caine during a junket, which Schwartz says makes it unclear exactly what Freeman was referring to.
He wrote: “It is correct that, during the interview, Mr. Freeman said, ‘I wish I was there.’ But Ms. Melas had no factual basis to have interpreted that as a statement about her, or as sexual harassment. The videotape makes clear that Mr. Freeman was in fact responding to a story that Michael Caine had just told.”
Schwartz’s letter also references WGN-TV’s Tyra Martin, one of the women cited in the CNN article, and says Martin has gone on record twice to dispute CNN’s account of her encounters with Freeman.READ MORE: Beverly Hills Police Department Accused Of Racial Profiling
Martin subsequently told TMZ: “Hey, still getting a lot of nasty messages from people who think I AM one of the accusers. I’m not, never was. CNN totally misrepresented the video and took my remarks out of context.”
The letter also argued that since Melas claimed to have been a victim of Freeman’s alleged behavior, she “lacked the requisite impartiality and objectivity to fairly cover the story she was chasing. Under those circumstances, CNN should not have allowed her to write it.”
There was no immediate response to requests for comment from CNN made by multiple outlets.
Freeman, 80, issued two statements since the allegations broke last week, first saying, “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.”
But in a second apology issued Saturday, he appeared to outright reject any of the allegations: “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.MORE NEWS: Woman Reported Missing In Rowland Heights Found
“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.”