EXCLUSIVE: Days after Cynthia and Sheila Garrett made accusations that their half-brother Bernard Garrett Jr., the co-producer of Apple’s original movie The Banker, sexually molested them during the early 1970s, Garrett Jr. has come forward this morning with a vehement denial.
The allegations made by Cynthia Garrett came to light after a comment she wrote on a Deadline story and in other media that wrote stories about the upcoming film which was slotted as the first theatrical release for Apple’s film division. Apple noticed this and promptly pulled the awards season contender as AFI’s closing night film last Thursday. Garrett Jr.’s name was also abruptly removed from the The Banker‘s credits and promo materials. On Friday, Apple announced it was delaying the film’s Dec. 6 theatrical release to an undetermined time. The Banker is scheduled to stream on Apple TV+ in January, but even that is unclear.
The Banker is based on the true story of Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) who together with Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), bought banks in Texas to give lending opportunities to blacks who aspired to own homes and start businesses. This occurred during the 1950s, when Jim Crow laws made such ambitions nearly impossible in the Deep South. Garrett and Morris got around this segregationist tactics by hiring a working-class white man (Nicholas Hoult) to pose as the head of their corporation while they pretended to be a janitor and chauffeur. Like The Help, the movie shines a light on African Americans during a time of severe segregation.
Garrett Jr. as a character appears in the movie briefly. We understand that Garrett Sr. sold the pic rights to Romulus Entertainment, and that deal reverted to Garrett Jr. after his father’s death, making him a co-producer in name only. The Banker also features Garrett Sr.’s first wife, Eunice (Nia Long). The half sisters have claimed that some events taking place in the film actually occurred after Eunice and Garrett Sr. were divorced.
Below is Garrett Jr.’s statement:
“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. 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.”
Apple has declined to comment specifically about Garrett Jr.’s situation in connection with The Banker.
Cynthia Garrett gave a subsequent statement to our sister publication IndieWire. She is steadfast in her accusation:
“At 4 years old, Bernard Garrett Jr. forced himself on my baby sister in secret. He continued repeatedly whenever he could for years. It occurred in our home, and in a grove or field near our home, in Glendora, California. Additionally, Bernard Garrett Jr. forced himself on me in secret beginning at age 7 and continued for years. My abuse occurred in our home in Glendora, California and continued until we moved with our parents to the Bahamas. Bernie Jr did not come with us.
We spent years of our childhood in fear of being alone with him and many more years feeling silenced by the shame and darkness of what he did to us. When my sister was 16 and I was 19 I learned that she too had been abused. Recently I have learned that her abuse was even worse than mine. Bernard Garrett Jr. admitted the acts just days ago to my brother on the phone. My whole family of eight stands in unity on the truth of this. He has recently issued a statement filled with lies. With that statement he repeatedly rapes us.
Years later, he purported to have the rights to our father’s story. He did not. My father gave us the rights on video. He attempted to get a waiver from us in 2011 – which we did not give because he was a sex offender.
He went on in his statement to accuse my mother of not being faithful to my father. She was pregnant for seven years straight during this period. She is innocent in this and also a victim. …
It seems the legal representatives on this film want to position themselves as defending the actions of a child molester (and mentioning a 15 year age – which is inaccurate – and disgusting that they are inferring he was a minor – as they defend his position) – how sick!
It shows what we have seen from them the whole time – an exploitative orientation of our family.
To steal, kill and destroy is in Bernard Garrett Jr.s nature. It is shocking to see the makers of the Banker align with him in his rape.
Cynthia & The Entire Garrett Family
(except for Bernard Jr)”