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Editor’s note: Ryan Seacrest and NBCUniversal’s responses to the allegations in this column are included below.
It’s been four months since I sent a letter to Ryan Seacrest and E! detailing the sexual assault and harassment I endured while I was Ryan’s personal stylist from 2007 to 2012. To give a little context to my job, I didn’t just style Ryan for the E! News show in studio. I packed clothes for him to wear on American Idol, I traveled with him and styled him for New Year’s Rockin‘ Eve in Times Square, I got him ready for red carpet shows for the Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars. We worked the Disney Christmas parade every year. I made late-night runs to his house to get his looks together for countless appearances and events. I was his personal stylist as much as I was anything.
When the #MeToo movement empowered so many women to come forward with their truths, I did so as well. In response to the letter, E! owner NBCUniversal conducted an incomplete investigation of the facts and declared the results “inconclusive.” Ryan chose to immediately author a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter falsely claiming he had been vindicated and attempting to portray himself as the victim. I finally said “enough is enough” and went public with my name and the ugly details of what I endured.
And then … nothing. Sure, some celebrities avoided Ryan on the red carpet at the Oscars, and his ratings were way down. But the silence since then has been deafening. Ryan continues to cheerfully co-host Live With Kelly and Ryan each morning with Kelly Ripa’s full support. He’s the smiling host of American Idol twice a week on ABC. And E! continues to back him. NBC News invited me to tell my story on the Megyn Kelly show, but after the Oscars (and an extensive pre-interview I did with her producers), that invitation disappeared. “We need to reschedule,” they said. I’m still waiting for that.
So much for “Let’s believe the women,” right? Unless you’re the president of the United States or a TV cash cow, apparently. Those who work with Ryan seem to hope I will just go away. Well, I’m not going away. I’m thriving in the truth and feel more inspired than ever. I recently contacted the LAPD and filed a police report so I’m guaranteed a real investigation this time. (Editor’s note: THR confirmed a police report has been filed and the case is being investigated.) Ryan’s team of lawyers, who are also representing Harvey Weinstein, do not intimidate me. If Ryan is so innocent, why hasn’t he called me a liar or sued me or presented evidence of my so-called extortion plot?
These were not new allegations to Ryan, E! and many in my close-knit circle of family and friends. I gave a full account of my experience to the E! HR department in 2012, while I was still employed. Soon after my truthful confession, I was let go without severance, compensation or any credible explanation. After six years of faithful work and dedication that included humiliating episodes of inappropriate advances, touching, groping and assault, I was gone, just like that.
It was never my intention to go public. When I was enduring harassment, I stayed away from HR because I was informed it was a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. But because so many of the incidents occurred in front of other people, HR actually called me in to ask if there was something going on romantically between my boss and me. When asked on the spot, I spilled everything to them … and then was systematically flushed.
I told many people, including my boyfriend at the time, what was happening. He was furious and suggested I call a prominent women’s rights lawyer, but she had a conflict of interest. Another good friend put me in touch with a lawyer, but I felt the deck was stacked against me and I had no chance going up against the powerful machine that was letting me go. I was even told by a high-powered entertainment attorney, “You didn’t sleep with him; you have no case.” Shocked, I learned of a “standard” agreement most women are presented in the industry to silence them after a sexual encounter with an employer. I was devastated and angry. I did the right thing! I didn’t sleep with him, I didn’t kiss him, he never touched me consensually and there’s no agreement for that? For being a professional? For laughing off this buffoon’s unwanted advances for years? That anger and confusion stayed with me while I did my best to reinvent myself and find new employment in a different field. I found work for much less money, but the anger and humiliation has never gone away.
All I wanted was an apology, some validation and some real action to protect women in the workplace. What I got was NBC promising to do a thorough and confidential investigation of my claims. Sadly, NBC did not interview 10 of the witnesses I provided, including my therapist and my boyfriend at the time. After closing the books on its “inconclusive” investigation, NBC refused to provide me with any of its findings or even the HR reports from my 2012 claims.
Ryan chose to take this public, not me. But I will not stand by silently and let Ryan or the sycophants that employ him get away with this. Not when teenagers, with their voices shaking, can speak up to Congress on gun control. I can face this too! Ryan is not a victim; he is the instigator and the assaulter. He did everything I asserted in my original HR report and in my private letter to him and E! in November. Everyone in Hollywood who stands by Ryan now is choosing not to believe me. That includes every guest on his shows, every studio and network that does business with him, every celebrity who talks to him on a red carpet. Know that this is a choice you are making.
In reliving all these incidents lately, one thing has stuck with me: Ryan seemed to really enjoy humiliating me. He would say out loud, ‘Look how red Suzie’s face is. Look how embarrassed she is!” Then he would laugh, like some next-level corporate tool I didn’t even know existed. When your boss is the golden boy of a network, when they’ve given him his own production company and his own show and moved his radio program into the building, and he is motioning for you to bend down and tie his shoes, you do it.
So, joke all you want, Kelly Ripa. NBC and ABC, keep spinning and deflecting. You’re all making a big mistake. And Ryan, stop trying to bully me. It’s not going to work.
Seacrest has denied any inappropriate behavior, calling the claims “reckless allegations.” An investigation conducted by an outside law firm cleared him Feb. 1, finding “insufficient evidence to support the claims.” The company’s investigation focused on witnesses with firsthand knowledge of interactions between Seacrest and Hardy. NBC and Seacrest have said Hardy was not terminated; her contract ended when Seacrest’s tenure on E! News came to a close. NBC declined to comment further.
In a statement, Seacrest’s attorney, Andrew Baum, said: “After Mr. Seacrest denied each and every one of Ms. Hardy’s decade old claims, after Mr. Seacrest refused to pay Ms. Hardy any money whatsoever, and after an independent legal investigation did not support her claims, Ms. Hardy went to the press attacking the legitimacy of the investigation. Now, after being refused money and unhappy with the independent legal investigation, Ms. Hardy now claims to have spoken to the authorities. We will continue to cooperate and we remain confident that Mr. Seacrest will once again be cleared of any wrongdoing.”
March 29, 10:48 a.m. Updated with new statement from Seacrest’s attorney.
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