Morgan Freeman‘s lawyer has asked CNN to retract a report from last week which claimed Morgan Freeman, a celebrated actor, sexually harassed eight women.
Robert M. Schwartz, Freeman’s lawyer, sent a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, calling the story false and demanded the network apologize to the actor over the accusations, Variety reports.
The 80-year-old actor has denied the claims since the CNN report was published on May 24. The outlet interviewed 16 people–eight of which corroborated claims of sexual harassment.
One of the reporters who wrote the story, Chloe Melas, claimed that during a press round for the 2015 film “Going In Style,” Freeman called her “ripe” and made her feel uncomfortable. At the time she was six months pregnant.
In the letter to Zucker, Schwartz writes that Melas “baited and prodded” witnesses and alleged victims to come forward because she had a personal vendetta against the actor. Schwartz also points to an internal report conducted by Warner Bros. which found no wrongdoing on Freeman’s part. Melas was the only victim who was explicitly named in the CNN story, but Schwartz says that another witness, Chicago WGN-TV’s, Tyra Martin, says the outlet misquoted her account with Freeman.
“The problem with Ms. Melas’ account, which infected everything that she and CNN thereafter did, is that her version of the interview is false,” Schwartz’s statement reads. “It is based on her imagining that Mr. Freeman had said or done anything to harass her. However, there is substantial evidence that Ms. Melas imagined an incident, or exaggerated a non-malicious remark wildly out of proportion to reality, to give her a basis to go after Mr. Freeman and cause him the grave harm that CNN’s story has inflicted.”
CNN has refused to retract the story, saying that it stands by its journalist standards of reporting.
“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,” the statement reads. “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.”
Since the story broke, Freeman has lost multiple endorsements, including a marketing campaign with Visa and a possible revoking of his SAG-AFTRA lifetime achievement award.