1:45pm PT by Bryn Elise Sandberg
Ryan Seacrest Responds to Sexual Harassment Accuser Going Public
After his accuser went public, Ryan Seacrest is once again denying the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him.
"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," Seacrest said Tuesday in a statement. "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."
Continued Seacrest: "This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars. 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."
The talk show host was first accused of harassment by his former E! wardrobe stylist in November — but before the accuser went public with the claims, Seacrest chose to get out ahead of the story, vehemently denying the "reckless" allegations against him and agreeing to fully cooperate with an internal investigation into matter at the network.
Nearly three months later, E! completed its investigation into the allegations by outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal and found "insufficient evidence to support the claims." The American Idol and Live With Kelly and Ryan host then wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter about the experience, in which he once again denied the claims and expressed his desire to be a part of changing the systemic gender inequality issues in Hollywood.
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching. I’ve always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion. Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds," Seacrest wrote. "I absolutely want to be part of the change, the progress, that is coming. I did not want to be a postscript of evidence of its cause."
Seeing Seacrest's column, titled "What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment," prompted his accuser to come forward with her name and previously unreported details of the allegations. The former stylist, identified as Suzie Hardy in a Variety report, claims that she was subjected to years of unwanted sexual advances while working for the TV personality. Among the inappropriate behavior she alleges is Seacrest groping her vagina, grinding his erect penis against her while laying on top of her in only underwear and slapping her butt hard enough to leave a welt.
In 2013, she was reportedly asked to meet with human resources to discuss the nature of her relationship with Seacrest, and two weeks later she was told that her employment with the company would end in a few weeks.
"I didn’t know how to deal with it," Hardy told Variety. "I really didn’t. I was battling finally being in a decent financial position to breathe and be a mom, that I didn’t have to be freaking out all the time, and then dealing with this infantile celebrity person who was testing me on every level and manipulating me and knew that I was in a vulnerable position."
Following Seacrest's Tuesday statement, Variety co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller responded to the claim that the publication "didn't speak with me," as the host said. "We asked to speak to Seacrest directly and his reps declined to make him available," she tweeted.
Seacrest's full Tuesday statement is below.