Ryan Seacrest has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by his former E! stylist Suzie Hardy.
Hardy started working as Seacrest’s personal stylist for E! News in 2007, and left in 2013. In an attorney’s letter obtained by Variety, Hardy alleges that she was subjected to “years of unwanted sexual aggression” which 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 several hours later.” Two alleged incidents of assault described by Hardy were corroborated by a former co-worker, who claims that he witnessed them in 2009. Hardy also alleges that her employment with E! ended after she described Seacrest’s behavior to HR. “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 of the alleged abuse.
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The allegations first broke in November, at which point Hardy was anonymous and the details of her claims were not made public. In a statement at that time, Seacrest said: “Recently, someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News, came forward with a complaint suggesting I behaved inappropriately toward her. If I made her feel anything but respected, I am truly sorry. I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result.” At that time, E! announced that it was starting an internal investigation, which has now concluded and found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.”
Hardy told Variety that she was “exasperated” by the result of the investigation, and claims that the investigator never contacted four witnesses she had referred to him who could corroborate her story. “I felt like by the third interview [with me] it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.”
An E! spokesperson told Variety that the investigation was “extremely comprehensive and thorough. 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.”
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Variety details a number of alleged incidents during the course of Hardy’s employment, as outlined in her attorney’s letter. Hardy claims that Seacrest made it clear early in her tenure that he was romantically interested in her, gave her “excessive” gifts and on several occasions hugged her while wearing only his underwear. She said that his behavior became more physical and aggressive: in 2008, Hardy alleges that Seacrest “cupped her crotch,” an incident which a former co-worker confirmed Hardy had described to him at the time. The same former co-worker told Variety that he “saw Seacrest push Hardy’s head into his crotch while she was tying his shoes” on multiple occasions,
The same former co-worker also said that he witnessed two further incidents of assault by Seacrest in 2009, described by both he and Hardy in separate accounts. In the first alleged incident, Seacrest “forcefully slapped Hardy’s buttock” hard enough to leave a welt, photographic evidence of which was obtained by Variety. In the second alleged incident, according to separate accounts from Hardy and her co-worker, Seacrest “in his underwear, this time with a visible erection, grabbed Hardy, threw her onto the hotel-room bed, and climbed on top of her, rubbing his erection against her—stopping only when Hardy’s co-worker began yelling at him.”
In 2010, Hardy alleges that Seacrest “tightly grabbed her vagina” after asking her an intrusive question about her boyfriend at the time. Five people—either co-workers, friends or associates of Hardy—confirmed that she had described this incident to them near the time it allegedly occurred.
In 2013, Hardy claims, she was asked by HR about the nature of her relationship with Seacrest, at which point she described his behavior to them for the first time. Two weeks later, she said, she was told that her employment at E! news would end after the upcoming Oscars.
Seacrest’s attorney Andrew Baum called Hardy’s allegations “untrue” and “false” and alleged that Hardy had threatened to make the claims against Seacrest unless he paid her $15 million. “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,” Baum said in a statement. Hardy’s attorney denied that either he or Hardy had asked Seacrest, E! or the channel’s corporate owner NBCUniversal for any money.