CNN “stands by its reporting” on Morgan Freeman accusing him of sexual harassment

ABC/Randy Holmes(ATLANTA) — CNN stands by its reporting on Morgan Freeman in which eight women accused the actor of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.

The cable news network officially responded to a 10-page letter from Freeman’s attorney Robert Schwartz sent earlier this week demanding a retraction of the story and an apology.

In its five-page response, CNN wrote that it, “stands by its reporting and is prepared to fight aggressively any attempt to intimidate it into silence.”

CNN also dismissed Schwartz’s letter as “designed for press consumption,” saying it does not, “cast any shadow on the central gravamen of CNN’s story — that Morgan Freeman engaged in a pattern of behavior that demeaned and sexualized women, whether or not they were in his employ.”

The cable news network defended reporter Chloe Melas, who co-authored the May 24 report, saying she has received “death threats” since the story was published.

In his letter, Freeman’s attorney said Melas treated a comment that Freeman made during a press junket for his film Going in Style as, “a form of sexual harassment, and then set out on a crusade to vilify him.”

In a statement he issued Tuesday, Schwartz said, “We presented CNN with objective evidence, including videotapes and on-the-record denials by the claimed ‘victims,’ that the alleged incident that gave rise to the story never happened. We proved to CNN, beyond any doubt, that the whole story was built on fakery.”

The Oscar-winning actor, 80, denied ever sexually assaulting any woman. In a statement to ABC News last Friday, he said the report has “devastated” him and that “it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor.”

But he also issued an apology to, “anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”

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