An internal investigation may have cleared Ryan Seacrest after he was accused of sexual misconduct by his former stylist at the E! network, but now she’s coming forward to provide some shocking details of the alleged abuse she says she experienced from the “American Idol” host.
In a letter she sent to NBCUniversal (E!’s parent company) in November (which was obtained by Variety), Suzy Hardy recalls how her dream job turned into a nightmare when Seacrest began allegedly sexually harassing her on the job, admitting she put up with the behaviour because she was a single mother and needed the job.
A spokesperson for E! responded to the newly public allegations and its recent investigation into Seacrest’s alleged behaviour.
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough,” the E! spokesperson told ET. “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 and all firsthand witnesses that she provided. 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.”
Hardy claims in an interview with Variety that the alleged misconduct included Seacrest “grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.”
According to Hardy’s letter, she began working as Seacrest’s stylist in 2007. While she was initially thrilled to be receiving “a regular paycheque every week,” things took a turn when Hardy learned from Seacrest’s personal assistant that he had taken a romantic interest in her.
Hardy tells Variety of an alleged incident in 2008 when she says Seacrest “slid his hand in from behind, cupped her crotch, then quickly pulled it away again.” In her letter, she says that Seacrest told her, “Oh my god, are you going to sue me?” She responded: “Not if I stay employed.”
A former co-worker confirms to Variety that Hardy told her about the alleged incident shortly after it happened, and also alleges he witnessed Seacrest give Hardy unwanted hugs and push her head into his crotch as she tied his shoes “on multiple occasions.”
The same co-worker alleges he witnessed Seacrest “forcefully” smack Hardy’s behind (Hardy took a photo of the red welt the alleged slap left on her buttock).
“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, adding that she’s “seen every shrink in town.”
As for why she didn’t quit the job, Hardy explains: “I came from a freelance life, and it was scary. It was hard to raise a child and not know where your next cheque was going to come from, and if that gig was going to take me out of town for two weeks. It was a better deal all the way around, even if I was being abused. It’s sick to say, but it was true.”
After closing its investigation into Hardy’s allegations, reps for E! stated that “the investigation, conducted by outside counsel, found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated. E! is committed to providing a safe working environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity.”
Seacrest, through his lawyer, continues to refute Hardy’s allegations. “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,” Seacrest’s attorney, Andrew Baum, told Variety.
“On January 31st the network notified us that their independent third-party investigation had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support her claims, effectively, clearing my client’s name.” Baum continued. “It’s telling that after my client refused to pay her money, and the E! investigation resulted as it did, that she is now coming forward to share her debunked story to the press.”
The day after Variety‘s story was published, Seacrest himself issued a statement categorically denying Hardy’s allegations and implying that Hardy’s allegations are nothing more than a shakedown attempt, saying she “tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — I refused.”
“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,” Seacrest’s statement begins.
“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 accused 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,” he continues.
“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,” adds Seacrest. “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.”
His statement concludes: “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.”
Following Seacrest’s latest statement, Variety issued its own statement to refute Seacrest’s claim that nobody from Variety spoke with him.
“Responding to a quote by Ryan Seacrest in a Hollywood Reporter story posted today, in which Seacrest claims that “Variety didn’t speak with me” or even ask for evidence obtained during the investigation of sexual misconduct allegations, we want to set the record straight…We spent one hour on the phone yesterday (2/26) with Seacrest attorney, Andrew Baum, and his publicist, Kelly Mullens Brown, speaking on background about the story that our reporter Dan Holloway was writing. We asked to speak to Seacrest directly and his reps declined to make him available. Seacrest’s reps claimed to have evidence discrediting the accuser, Suzie Hardy, but refused to provide that as well, citing legal restrictions.”