Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Morgan Freeman's attorney demands CNN retraction; network stands by harassment story

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.

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".

"Ms. Melas baited and prodded supposed "witnesses" to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him".

Of the three people CNN identified as being a "victim, '" the first, CNN's own Chloe Melas, had no reasonable basis to have interpreted what Mr. Freeman said or did at the Going In Style interview a year ago as having been directed at her or as any form of harassment.

Freeman's lawyers also said a second woman, Tyra Martin, had gone on record twice since the reports were published to claim she was misrepresented and refute that Freeman harassed her.

But the network has said it is standing by the allegations.

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"Hey, still getting a lot of nasty messages from people who think I AM one of the accusers", Martin told TMZ in a post published on Saturday.

According to a letter sent Tuesday, reporter Chloe Melas misinterpreted a remark that was not intended for her - a misinterpretation that Warner Bros.' human-relations department, which reviewed tape of the interview and chose not to investigate further, found without merit - and used her own experience as the premise for the rest of her reporting with co-author An Phung. "I never said that".

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.

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".

A spokesman for the network said: "The unfounded accusations made by Mr Freeman's lawyer are disappointing and are hard to reconcile with Mr Freeman's own public statements in the aftermath of the story". And that is why I apologised Thursday and will continue to apologise to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally.

The actor has denied ever sexually assaulting any woman. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex, ' he added. "Any suggestion that I did so is completely false".

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