Ryan Seacrest: What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment (Guest Column)
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching," writes the star as he pledges "to help voices be heard."
I do not take things for granted. Every day I am living my childhood dream because of the efforts of so many other people. I do my best to show and express my gratitude to my co-hosts, producers, guests, audiences, executives, partners and fans for the privilege of their collaboration and participation, and for the unwavering support of my loved ones and team.
In November, I received a letter from a lawyer representing a former show stylist. She claimed that I mistreated her more than a decade ago when we worked together. This arrived during an unprecedented public reckoning by women in our industry and beyond, courageously coming forward to share their stories, many of them heartbreaking. These women sought to bring attention to the systemic gender inequality that has occurred for decades. I was — and am — amazed at their bravery.
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. The pressures of our overflowing newsfeeds would insist on it.
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.
After sharing the letter with the network, I publicly denied the claims against me, and agreed to participate in any inquiry the network deemed appropriate. On Feb. 1, I received notice that an independent third party found the claims to be unsubstantiated and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on my part.
Most of us agree that the presumption of innocence is an important standard. We are taught early on that it’s essential to see all sides, to give everyone a chance to explain and to check for exculpatory evidence that may have been missed. At a time when improper interactions between men and women, particularly in the workplace, are part of a national conversation, we must find a way to ensure that everyone — the public, private and public institutions, accusers and alleged accused — is given the opportunity for a swift and fair review.
My job is to listen. Beyond listening, which I will continue in earnest, I also will ask questions and try to help voices be heard. It isn’t lost on me that my platforms — radio, TV, social media — can be powerful conduits for change.
We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of our gender, race, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other status. We find ourselves in extraordinary times in American culture. We live with near constant change, disruption and public discourse. I realize the morals and values, the decency, we’ve perhaps taken for granted, individually and as citizens of the world, are in question. Worse, at risk. I do not take these things for granted.
Ryan Seacrest is an award-winning TV/radio host, producer and creative entrepreneur.