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Kelly Ripa is standing by Ryan Seacrest after a woman went public with sexual harassment claims against the co-host.
Amid mounting pressure about whether or not Seacrest should resume his red carpet duties for E! News at Sunday’s Oscars, Ripa took a moment during Thursday’s Live With Kelly and Ryan to tell Seacrest that she looks forward to watching him on the annual preshow.
“I cannot wait to see you there,” she said, turning talk to his other gig. “I just want you to know that you are a privilege to work with, and I adore you.”
Ripa received applause for her comments, which were the first time the accusations have been seriously referenced on the ABC talk show. One day prior, Ripa appeared to make a dig about the claims during a bit about his shoe.
“I’m speaking on behalf of all of us here,” Ripa continued. “I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very lucky to work with you each and every day. And we all do, we all do.”
A clearly touched Seacrest responded by kissing his co-host on the head and telling her, “You are happiness.” (Watch above.)
Last year, a former E! News stylist accused Seacrest of harassment and unwanted touching. She claims that she was fired in 2013 after she brought his behavior up to human resources. E! conducted a two-month investigation and ultimately cleared Seacrest of the accusations. The stylist, Suzie Hardy, then went public with her story to Variety and is now saying that the investigation was not thorough.
Seacrest again denied the allegations this week, and E! announced that the network has no plans to remove him from his Oscar duties. Jennifer Lawrence was one of the first Oscar attendees to weigh in about whether she will speak to Seacrest on the carpet, telling Howard Stern on his radio show that she isn’t sure but that her concerns are largely with the network over the pay-disparity scandal with Catt Sadler.
“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,” Seacrest told THR, in part, in a statement. “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.” (Read his full statement here.)
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