Visa Cuts Morgan Freeman from Commercials After Harassment Claims

Focus Features

The financial services company Visa has revealed that it will no longer use actor Morgan Freeman for its commercials amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

On Thursday, Freeman was accused of by several women of engaging in “inappropriate behavior” they said amounted to sexual harassment.

“We are aware of the allegations that have been made against Mr. Freeman,” a Visa spokesman told The New York Times. “At this point, Visa will be suspending our marketing in which the actor is featured.”

Visa’s decision comes days after ads voiced by the Shawshank Redemption star were removed from the Vancouver transit system. Meanwhile, the actors union SAG-Afrtra is also considering whether to strip him of the lifetime achievement accolade they awarded him in January.

“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy,” the 80-year-old said in his initial statement on Thursday. “I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”

In a more detailed statement on Saturday, Freeman said he was left “devastated” at the prospect of his career being undermined, while also vehemently denying any suggestion of sexual assault as “completely false”:

“I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women–and men–feel appreciated and at ease around me,” the Academy Award-winner said. “As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way.”

“Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologized Thursday and will continue to apologize to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally.”

“But I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments,” Freeman continued. “I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”

Freeman is just one of over a hundred industry figures to be accused of sexual misconduct in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Other prominent figures include Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, James Franco, and Bill Cosby.

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