Published Feb 26, 2018Radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest is the latest public figure to face some serious allegations from the ongoing #MeToo movement. Today, details have emerged from allegations of sexual misconduct that were discussed internally at E! last year. Specifically, Seacrest was accused of sexually harassing and abusing his former personal stylist.
As Variety reports, Seacrest's personal stylist Suzie Hardy alleged that Seacrest acted inappropriately with her for years. She claims he grinded his erect penis against her while wearing nothing but his underwear, groped her vagina, and slapped her rear end so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.
Hardy worked for Seacrest from 2007 to 2013. She claimed that as a single mother she didn't report the alleged abuse because she wanted to provide for her family. She claims that she finally did report Seacrest's actions to human resources in 2013, at which point her employment was terminated.
"As proud as I am and as strong as a woman as I am, as smart as I am and as much work as I've done with therapists, it really affected me," Hardy told Variety.
She added that Seacrest allegedly gave her gifts throughout the years of her employment at E! and made inappropriate requests, allegedly asking her to take a nap with him.
E! and its parent company NBCUniversal launched an internal investigation regarding the allegations, concluding that they had found "insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest."
An E! spokesperson insisted that the investigation was thorough.
"E!'s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough," the person told Variety. "Over the course of a two month process, our outside counsel interviewed more than two dozen people regarding the allegations, including multiple separate meetings with the claimant. The investigator is an attorney with nearly 20 years experience and is highly regarded professionally. Any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless."
Still, Hardy feels like she was treated unfairly by the organization.
"Total exasperation was my definite feeling when I heard about it," Hardy said of the investigation's conclusion. "I felt like by the third interview, it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest's side."
Seacrest has refuted Hardy's claims on numerous occasions. Seacrest's lawyer Andrew Baum offered a statement to Variety, saying, "It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a 'story' about untrue allegations that were made against my client, after they were told that the accuser threatened to make those false claims against him unless he paid her $15 million. At that time, the claimant threatened to issue a demonstrably false press statement unless she was paid. Instead, my client proactively and publicly denied the claims and agreed to fully cooperate with E!'s investigation about the matter."
Hardy's lawyer, meanwhile, claims she never asked for any financial compensation of any kind about the matter.
UPDATE (02/27, 5:30 p.m.):
Ryan Seacrest has shared a response to Variety's story. Read his full statement below [via The Hollywood Reporter].
Much has been said about the #MeToo and Times Up movement(s) and the importance of providing women and men with the opportunity to share their stories of workplace misconduct, in an effort to change our culture and the systemic inequalities that exist. I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories.
Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accuser and countless others. Ultimately, my name was cleared. I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.
Yesterday, Variety published a salacious story that revealed the specific claims against me for the first time – even though an independent third-party investigator found insufficient evidence to support the claims. Much to my dismay, Variety didn't speak with me or bother to speak with other credible witnesses or even ask for any of the evidence that was obtained during the investigation when offered, all of which clearly challenged the veracity of the claims made against me.
This person who has accused me of horrible things tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don't take my opportunities for granted. I don't want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.