UPDATED: 4:02 p.m. EST –
In a statement to IndieWire, Cynthia Garrett reiterated her abuse allegations against her half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., saying he “forced himself” on her when she was seven and he “forced himself” on her baby sister when she was four. Cynthia says this continued for years. She also claimed that her father, Bernard Garrett originally gave her and her family the rights to a movie and Garrett Jr. tried to get a waiver from them in 2011, but they denied him “because he was a sex offender.” You can read Cynthia’s full statement here.
Apple’s original movie “The Banker” has been hit with controversy because of sexual abuse allegations and now the accused perpetrator is speaking out.
The movie is based on the true story of Bernard Garrett, played by Anthony Mackie and Joe Morris, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Together, they bought banks in Texas to provide lending opportunities to Black people who aspired to start businesses and own homes. The movie was initially supposed to be the AFI Fest’s closing night film last Thursday, however, this was canceled because of an abuse allegation towards Garrett’s son, Bernard Garrett Jr.
According to Deadline, his half-sisters Cynthia and Sheila Garrett accused Garrett Jr., who is a co-producer on “The Banker,” of sexually molesting them back in the early 1970s. Now, Garrett Jr. is denying these allegations with the release of a statement. He’s claiming that Cynthia and Sheila have ill-will because Garrett Sr. broke up with their mom, his second wife, after he caught her cheating:
“My half-sisters Cynthia and Sheila have accused me of molesting them in the early 1970s, when I was a teenager of about 15. This simply never happened. Period. What did happen is that I told my father when I discovered that their mother Linda was cheating on him, and they have always blamed me for the break-up that followed.”
Garrett Jr. then went on to accuse Cynthia of being bitter because she wasn’t offered the rights to the movie:
“What did happen is that Cynthia asked my father – twice – to give her the right to make a movie of his life story, and twice he turned her down, and instead decided to entrust those rights to me and a friend of mine. These charges against me are deeply humiliating and frustrating because I can never prove how false they are. I can only hope that people will keep an open mind, and though I forgive my sisters and bear them no ill-will, I do hope that people will educate themselves on who Cynthia is – and why she might make these accusations right now – before they take her words as truth. For myself, the best I could do was remove my name from the film and step away so as not to tarnish my father’s Legacy, as honoring him and what he stood for was all I ever wanted to do.”
The allegations against Garrett Jr. came to light after Cynthia commented on a Deadline story and other media stories about the upcoming movie, which was scheduled to be the first theatrical release for Apple’s film division. Once Apple noticed the allegations, they removed the movie from the closing night of AFI Fest. Garrett Jr.’s name was also pulled from “The Banker” credits and promo materials. On Friday, Apple revealed that they would delay the movie’s December 6 theatrical release to an undetermined date. The film is supposed to stream on Apple TV+ in January, but this is also up in the air now.
In real life, Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris did their banking business in the middle of the 1950s when Jim Crow laws made certain ambitions nearly impossible in the Deep South. Garrett and Morris evaded these segregationist tactics by hiring a working-class white man (played by Nicholas Hoult in the movie) to pose as the head of their corporation while they pretended to be a chauffeur and janitor. Garrett Jr. is portrayed in the movie briefly.
According to Deadline, Garrett Sr. sold the picture rights to Romulus Entertainment, and the deal reverted to Garrett Jr. after his dad died, making him a co-producer in name only. The flick also features Garret Sr.’s first wife, Eunice (played by Nia Long). The half sisters are claiming that some of the events in the movie took place after Eunice and Garrett Sr. divorced, however they left the post-divorce life out of the movie in order to keep Cynthia, Sheila and their mother out of the story.