The actor has apologised for making women feel “uncomfortable or disrespected” after he was accused of sexually harassing colleagues and employees.
Eight women yesterday came forward to accuse the Hollywood actor of inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment, none of which he denied.
The Oscar-winner instead apologised for “unintentionally” making women feel “uneasy”, claiming that this was “never his intent”.
The women said Freeman, 80, had harassed them on film sets, at his production company and during promotional interviews.
One woman alleged he “repeatedly tried to lift up her skirt”, and a heavily pregnant journalist said he called her “ripe” while staring at her body.
Freeman routinely made women feel intimidated and uncomfortable, it was claimed, because of his ‘power’ and status.
Two male former employees at his production firm Revelations described him as a “creepy uncle” who would make “vulgar and sexual comments”. One said: ‘[He would say] things like, “I’d like to have an hour with her,” or make vulgar and sexual comments about women.
“You’re more shocked than anything because it’s hard to have the wherewithal to say to him, “That’s inappropriate” … it’s hard because on any set he is the most powerful person on it.”
Another woman claimed his inappropriate behaviour was so widespread that colleagues told her, “Don’t worry, that’s just Morgan.”
The woman, a former manager at Revelations, said she stopped wearing skirts at work to ward off his advances and that he often stood and stared at her breasts.
She told CNN: “I can’t say it was an accident that I’d be wearing a potato sack and a ponytail on certain days when he was there and do my best to avoid him when he was in the office.” A female employee on his 2013 film Now You See Me also alleged he made constant remarks about her body.
She said: “We knew that if he was coming by … not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted.”
In a statement, Freeman said: “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 apologise to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected – that was never my intent.”
The claims were made by 16 anonymous people who spoke to American television network CNN.
Eight of them were women who said they were victims of either inappropriate behaviour or sexual harassment by Freeman.
It comes after allegations he and his step-granddaughter E’Dena Hines had been in a sexual relationship before she was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in 2015.
Earlier this month Lamar Davenport was found guilty of manslaughter after his lawyers argued he had been in a drug-induced psychosis at the time.
During his trial the defence also claimed that Miss Hines, 33, had told Davenport that she and Freeman had had a sexual relationship. Freeman has denied the allegations.
According to another film writer, after the MeToo movement began, employees said Freeman “would be the next person to be called out”.
An unnamed production assistant claimed she was in her early 20s when she was subjected to “months of harassment” by Freeman, then 78, on the set of 2017’s Going In Style, which also starred Michael Caine.
She said Freeman touched her on almost a daily basis, including lifting up her skirt and asking if she was wearing underwear.
She alleged he made “constant comments” about how she looked, which left her going home in tears and forced her to quit the film industry.
When his office threw him a 79th birthday party, one former executive claimed Freeman walked up to women in a circle and stood “within an inch of their face”, looking them up and down.
He said: “He wouldn’t say anything, and then would move on to the next woman … it was really weird and he did it to every woman but of course he didn’t do it to any of the men. He didn’t speak to any of the men.”
The allegations were uncovered after CNN reporter Chloe Melas alleged Freeman made inappropriate comments about her during a promotional interview for Going In Style.
The reporter, who was six months pregnant at the time, said he shook her hand and did not let go while looking her up and down and saying, “I wish I was there.” She also claimed he said to her, “You are ripe.”
CNN claimed its cameras recorded the moment Freeman said, “Boy, do I wish I was there,” but not the other comments.
Freeman’s career spans nearly five decades, with starring roles in films such as Driving Miss Daisy and The Shawshank Redemption.
He won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, and has earned four other Oscar nominations.