A former stylist for Ryan Seacrest said that the TV host harassed and assaulted her while she worked for him, according to a new report by Variety.
Suzie Hardy, who worked as Seacrest’s personal stylist on E! News starting in 2007, said he subjected her to years of aggressive sexual misconduct, including grinding against her with an erect penis and grabbing her vagina. The allegations are detailed in a November letter, obtained by Variety and sent from Hardy’s attorney to the E! network, its parent company NBC Universal, and Seacrest himself.
“I came from a freelance life, and it was scary,” Hardy told Variety. “It was hard to raise a child and not know where your next check was going to come from, and if that gig was going to take me out of town for two weeks. It was a better deal all the way around, even if I was being abused. It’s sick to say, but it was true.”
This is the first time that Hardy, whose tenure with Seacrest and E! ended in 2013, has publicly described the allegations in detail, which first surfaced in November as the #MeToo movement gained momentum. Seacrest, at the time, called them “reckless allegations” and said E! was investigating the claim.
In February, the E! network announced that an independent investigator had “found insufficient evidence” against Seacrest; Seacrest himself penned an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter that called the accusations against him “gut-wrenching.”
Seacrest, through an attorney, denied the allegations again. “On January 31st the network notified us that their independent third-party investigation had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support her claims, effectively, clearing my client’s name,” Seacrest’s attorney, Andrew Baum, told Variety. “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.”
Hardy said Seacrest’s article had spurred her to open up about the alleged incidents. She also expressed frustration with the E! investigation. (Her attorney denied that Hardy had ever approached Seacrest or the networks for compensation.) “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! defended the investigation as “extremely comprehensive and thorough,” through a spokesperson. “Any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless.”
Hardy’s allegations against Seacrest
Hardy said that Seacrest harassed her soon after she began working with the E! host as a personal stylist.
Hardy, a single mom, said she eagerly took the job because of the steady hours and pay — and was reluctant to give it up for that reason, despite Seacrest’s inappropriate behavior.
According to Hardy’s account, Seacrest’s assistant indicated that the host was interested romantically in Hardy soon after she began working for him. But Hardy says his behavior turned more aggressive, including an alleged incident in 2007, when she says Seacrest gave her a “bear hug” in his underwear, and another in 2008, when Hardy says he groped her crotch (a story corroborated by a former co-worker to Variety):
In an interview, Hardy said that he slid his hand in from behind, cupped her crotch, then quickly pulled it away again. Seacrest, according to the letter, then asked her “Oh my god, are you going to sue me?” to which Hardy responded, “not if I stay employed.”
Hardy also alleges that, in 2009, Seacrest slapped her behind so aggressively that it left a red mark — which she photographed at the time and later provided to E! during the investigation. That same year, Hardy alleges that she was helping Seacrest get ready for the Oscars at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles when he flung her on to the bed, “and climbed on top of her, rubbing his erection against her — stopping only when Hardy’s co-worker began yelling at him,” Variety reported.
Hardy continued to work for Seacrest, and she told the publication the most “egregious” incident happened in 2010:
Hardy was, at the time, dating a high-powered entertainment attorney — toward the beginning of a relationship that would last three years. According to the letter and interviews with Hardy, as she stood in front of Seacrest, tying his tie, Seacrest inquired about the relationship, asking, “Have you f–ked him yet?” When Hardy responded by telling Seacrest not to ask her such questions, Seacrest allegedly reached down and tightly grabbed her vagina. She retreated in tears to a bathroom, where, she said, a production assistant approached her a few minutes later offering to walk her to human resources, but warning her that she would probably be fired if she reported Seacrest’s behavior. Hardy declined the offer.
Hardy says she spoke to E!’s human resources department in 2013, after it approached her about her relationship with Seacrest. Hardy says, at that time, she described Seacrest’s inappropriate groping and behavior. Soon after that, Hardy says, the E! ended her employment at the network.
Seacrest has consistently denied Hardy’s allegations, even before her claims were detailed publicly. “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,” Seacrest wrote in his February op-ed, referring to the #MeToo movement.
“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,” Seacrest added. “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.”
E! concluded the investigation into Seacrest earlier this year, and defended the integrity of the probe. Seacrest, who co-hosts Live with Ryan and Kelly on ABC, is also returning as host of that network’s reboot of American Idol in March.