Morgan Freeman accepts a SAG lifetime achievement award in January 2018
Photo: AP

On Thursday morning, CNN published a story in which eight women accused Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, both on and off set. The critically acclaimed actor and producer is described by women and witnesses as touching women inappropriately and making lewd comments. Employees at Revelations Entertainment, his production company, describe him as a “creepy uncle,” which—considering decades-long rumors about the actor’s tabloid-worthy and inappropriate affair, not to mention his degrading statements toward women in front of hundreds of people—isn’t too surprising at all.

In one instance CNN cites, a young producer describes how Freeman repeatedly tried to lift up her skirt, asking if she was wearing underwear. In another, he allegedly looked a woman up and down before asking her how she felt about sexual harassment. Morgan Freeman is 80 years old.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, CNN’s investigation was launched after one of the story’s co-authors, reporter Chloe Melas, interviewed the award-winning actor. He allegedly made several comments about her body during their meeting at a press junket, some of which were filmed. When Melas tried to speak to the Warner Bros. HR department about Freeman’s behavior, she was told there was not enough taped evidence and that “the Warner Bros employees present did not notice anything.”

It’s amazing what one woman will see that an entire company—and industry—won’t.

Earlier this year, Freeman received a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild, despite being a fairly well-known and documented creep. According to CNN, writers for shows run by Freeman’s production company reportedly joked in the wake of the #MeToo movement that Freeman would be the next man to fall. In 2016, in front of more than 400 people, he appeared on a panel with Revelations co-founder Lori McCreary and said of his colleague, “She wants to be thought of as serious. But you can’t get away from the short dresses.” During the panel, he referred to himself as a “sexist but not a misogynist.”

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Whatever shock that accompanies Freeman’s inevitable fall from his mantle as one of the film industry’s more distinguished and grandfatherly figures is a testament to the power of that industry to squash scrutiny, and of how much of that “creepy uncle” behavior is considered a powerful man’s right, especially in the years before the Harvey Weinstein allegations were finally made public.

Even the most dramatic of tabloid-fueled rumors of sexual misconduct have failed to blacklist Freeman, or even make more than a fleeting appearance in the mainstream press. For almost a decade, Freeman has disputed stories about his romantic relationship with E’dena Hines, his step-granddaughter, which was alleged to have begun when she was a teenager and when the two were living under the same roof.

The story of Hines and Freeman’s relationship was first reported in the National Enquirer in 2006; later, it was alleged that the two had spoken about getting married. The story has resurfaced periodically in the years since, most recently after Hines was tragically killed outside her apartment by her boyfriend, Lamar Davenport. In 2012, Freeman called the allegations “defamatory fabrications.” But just last month, in Davenport’s murder trial, the defense apparently confirmed that the two did have what was described by Davenport’s lawyer as an “inappropriate sexual relationship,” in light of texts sent by Hines by Davenport describing her “grandpa feelings” for Freeman, as well as statements from Davenport himself.

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That particular dirt never stuck: Freeman denied instigating a sexual relationship with a teenager he had raised, in his home, from a young age, and until recently his “creepy uncle” behavior was confined to gossip rags. You’d think that kind of allegation would be enough to topple a man, but apparently sex cults aren’t, either, so what do I know.