Morgan Freeman’s lawyer has issued a statement to CNN demanding that it retract and apologize for its recent story about his client’s alleged sexual harassment, or the network will have to deal with a lawsuit.
Robert M. Schwartz, Freeman’s attorney, says that CNN’s May 24 story, in which eight women alleged they had been sexually harassed by Freeman, was fabricated and suffers from “malicious intent, falsehoods, sleight of hand, an absence of editorial control, and journalistic malpractice,” according to Variety.
Schwartz also says that the writer of the article, Chloe Melas, baited witnesses to speak out against 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 writes in a letter to CNN’s president, Variety reports. “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.”
Melas, who was pregnant at the time, alleges that during the press junket for Freeman’s movie Going Out in Style, Freeman told her that she was ripe and that he’d like to be up in there.
Schwartz is requesting an immediate retraction of the story.
“At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr. Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24,” Schwartz writes. “CNN also needs to retract the portions of the story that concern [Freeman’s producing partner] Lori McCreary and apologize to her for defaming and injuring her.”
After the allegations hit, Freeman did apologize: “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.”