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Will The Ryan Seacrest Abuse Accusation Tarnish His Squeaky-Clean Image?
Ryan Seacrest's stylist says she faced an escalating series of sexual advancements before the abuse became physical.
Suzie Hardy, a former stylist for E!, has accused TV host Ryan Seacrest of sexual harassment and abuse.
Seacrest had tried to get pre-empt the accusations by citing internal investigations that had attempted to absolve him of wrong doing, but in a Variety exclusive, Hardy details the ways the inquiry ignored or didn't bother with testimony from many witnesses.
In a November letter sent from Hardy's attorney, Hardy says she was subjected to years worth of abuse from Seacrest after becoming employed as his stylist. Specific incidents included Seacrest rubbing his erect penis on her while only wearing underwear, non-consensual groping of her genitals, and non-consensual spanking. Hardy says she faced an escalating series of sexual advancements leading up to the unwanted physical contact.
“I didn’t know how to deal with it,” she 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.”
The November letter asked for E! to “come up with a plan to address the treatment of all women at the networks and to take responsibility for the wrongful treatment." The letter did not propose any kind of specific legal action but did state that “more formal” measures would be taken should E! not comply.
Seacrest announced on November 17 that “someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News," had made “reckless allegations” in a guest column he wrote for The Hollywood Reporter titled “What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment."
E!'s internal investigation into the matter found that there was “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.”
Hardy says she was interviewed by E! three times before they reached their conclusion. She says the network never reached out to the witnesses she suggested they speak to.
“Total exasperation was my definite feeling when I heard about it,” Hardy told Variety. “I felt like by the third interview, it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.”
E! spokespersons dispute Hardy's version of the interviews.
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough,” an E! spokesperson countered. “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.”
Seacrest's attorney, Andrew Baum, also offered a comment on the situation.
“It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations that were made against my client, after they were told that the accuser threatened to make those false claims against him unless he paid her $15 million," said Baum. "At that time, the claimant threatened to issue a demonstrably false press statement unless she was paid. Instead, my client proactively and publicly denied the claims and agreed to fully cooperate with E!’s investigation about the matter ... 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.”
Variety notes that there is no evidence to suggest that Hardy was looking for money by making her claims.
Hardy says she did not at first report Seacrest out of fear of losing her job, which allowed her to take care of her child. Her job was, in fact, terminated when she reported the abuses to the company's HR department in 2013.
“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, [the abuse] really affected me,” Hardy told Variety.
Hardy says she was inspired to come forward with her narrative after seeing numerous women in the entertainment industry doing the same.
[Photo: Getty Images]