After Morgan Freeman was accused of inappropriate behavior by eight women, SAG-AFTRA said Thursday that it is reviewing "corrective actions" relating to a lifetime achievement award the union gave the 80-year-old actor in January.
"These are compelling and devastating allegations which are absolutely contrary to all the steps that we are taking to [ensure] a safe work environment for the professionals in this industry," read a SAG-AFTRA statement. "Any accused person has the right to due process, but it is our starting point to believe the courageous voices who come forward to report incidents of harassment."
The response came just hours after CNN broke a story in which numerous women described how Freeman subjected them to unwanted touching and lewd, sexual comments.
Freeman released the following statement after the story was published: "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."
Freeman received the SAG-AFTRA prize at the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, where for the first time the show had all-female presenters and a host, actress Kristen Bell.
After Rita Moreno bestowed the award on Freeman, the actor appeared genuinely moved: "This is beyond honor. This is a place in history," he said.
At the end of his speech, he made a comment about the gender of the actual SAG trophy, telling the crowd "what's wrong with this statue" is that "it works from the back; from the front it's gender specific."
Four months later, SAG-AFTRA said in its statement that because the prize was "one of our union's most prestigious honors recognizing his body of work, we are therefore reviewing what corrective actions may be warranted at this time."
In February, the union adopted a new sexual harassment code of conduct to prohibit "unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and which creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment." SAG-AFTRA has also created guidelines on where industry meetings should take place, rules meant to avoid "high-risk locations" like hotel rooms where some of the behavior alleged by the #MeToo movement occurred.