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Morgan Freeman to keep the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award following harassment probe

Rita Moreno, left, looks on as Morgan Freeman accepts the Life Achievement Award at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

(2018 Invision)

After an independent investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Morgan Freeman,SAG-AFTRA said he does not dissolve the Oscar-winning actor is SAG Life Achievement Award – the union’s highest honor. The award was presented during the SAG Awards.

“On the basis of the results of an independent investigation and the information that we have at this time, we are taking no action with respect to the SAG Life Achievement Award to Morgan Freeman,” the union said Thursday in a statement to Deadline. “As always, the details of the investigation are confidential.”

SAG-AFTRA started the investigation in May following a CNN report that said that the eight women had come forward with accusations, “they were the victim of what some have called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior” by Freeman. In the aftermath of the report, the union said that “corrective measures” with respect to the prize, which was presented just a month before the union brought a Sexual Harassment Code of conduct “clearly specifies the expectations that SAG-AFTRA members to refrain from intimidating behavior.”

“This fascinating and destructive accusations that are absolutely contrary to the steps we take to ensure a safe working environment for professionals in this sector,” the union said in the wake of the allegations made against the Oscar-winning actor. “Every defendant has the right to a fair trial, but it is our starting point to believe that the courageous voices that have come forward to report incidents of harassment. Given Mr. Freeman recently received one of our union the most prestigious awards in recognition of his work, therefore, we are looking at what remedial measures are justified at this point.”

The accusations against Freeman included unwanted touching and inappropriate comments that he made at his production company, Revelations Entertainment, and while promoting his films. CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, who is the author of the article for the cable outlet, said she was subjected to inappropriate behavior by Freeman as she interviewed him at a press junket for “Go in Style.” According to Melas, who is six months pregnant at the time, Freeman shook her hand in a room full of people and would not let go “, while repeatedly looking her up and down and say: more than ever, a variant of “I wish I was there'” and told her “You are ripe.”

Freeman quickly apologized, but said it was never his intent to harass anyone. “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I’m not someone who intentionally offend or deliberately make someone feel uncomfortable. My apologies to anyone who felt uncomfortable or ignored — that was never my intention.”

He is followed by a more emphatic declaration: “I do not have to do with unsafe working environment. I did not assault women. I have no appointment or promotion in exchange for sex. One suggestion that I did is completely false.”

National Geographic, meanwhile, who was suspended for production from Freeman’s “The Story of God” in order to investigate the allegations, announced this month that the production of the show would be resumed after clearing him for inappropriate behavior on the show.

“By means of the production on the critically-acclaimed series ‘The Story of God” and “The Story of Us,” we have measured a long-term relationship with Morgan Freeman,” said network. “When we learned of the recent allegations around Mr Freeman is completely separate from our work with him, as a precautionary measure, we suspended production at our new season in order to complete a thorough investigation led by our parent company, Fox, performed by an independent researcher. The results of this study showed no incidents of concern during one of our work with Mr. Freeman. We have now made the choice to continue with the production of season three of “The Story of God”…As a company, we take issues of harassment very seriously and we are full of confidence is confirmed by the results of the investigation.”

Freeman lost his loyal sponsorship with Visa, in the midst of the controversy, but he was recently named a lifetime honoree at this year’s Deauville American Film Festival in France.

This story originally appeared in Deadline.

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