Four months after Suzie Hardy brought her allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Ryan Seacrest to him and E!, she is unhappy with the (lack of) results — and, as she puts it in a new column for the Hollywood Reporter, she’s “not going away” anytime soon.
Hardy, who worked as Seacrest’s stylist from 2007 to 2012, says that when she told HR at E! about the alleged abuse she suffered under Seacrest, she was summarily “let go without severance, compensation or any credible explanation.” Seacrest and E! maintain that her contract was up and they chose not to renew, a counterpoint Hardy vehemently contests.
“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,” Hardy writes. “When asked on the spot, I spilled everything to them — and then was systematically flushed.”
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations opening up the #MeToo movement and excavating Hollywood’s sexual harassment skeletons, Hardy decided in November to send Seacrest and E! a formal letter through a team of lawyers requesting that they “come up with a plan to address the treatment of all women at the networks and to take responsibility for the wrongful treatment” of Hardy, with a promise that they’d take “more formal action” if they didn’t comply.
Seacrest made this request public a week later when he decided to get ahead of the allegation, publishing an op-ed titled “What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment” in the Hollywood Reporter that addressed the claims without naming Hardy specifically. “I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations,” Seacrest wrote, “my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds.”
As Seacrest and the many celebrities who have supported him have emphasized, E!’s parent company, NBCUniversal, commissioned a third-party investigation into Hardy’s allegations, which eventually concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to substantiate the claims. (NBCUniversal is one of several investors in Vox Media, Vox.com’s parent company.)
But Hardy, who decided to make her claims public to Variety in large part due to Seacrest’s column, insists that the investigation was always biased and didn’t take all the evidence into account. In fact, she writes in her new column, “NBC did not interview 10 of the witnesses I provided, including my therapist and my boyfriend at the time,” and then declined to disclose the specifics of the investigation’s findings. Now she’s filed a formal police report so she can be “guaranteed a real investigation this time.”
In response to Hardy’s column, Seacrest’s attorney gave a statement to The Hollywood Reporter reasserting the denial of Hardy’s claims.
What inspired Hardy to write this new column and to get her side out there, in her own words, was what she saw as a stunning wave of apathy from Hollywood after the allegations were public. “Sure, some celebrities avoided Ryan on the red carpet at the Oscars, and his ratings were way down,” she said. “But the silence since then has been deafening.”
With so many harassment cases coming to light over the past several months, it can be hard for any individual claim to stay in the news. But Hardy is determined to make herself heard, using this defiant and exasperated new column to try to cut through what she finds to be a completely lackluster response from those who work and collaborate with Seacrest.
But maybe the most striking thing about Hardy’s new stand is how often she emphasizes how little she wanted to go to these lengths. As she points out, Seacrest is the one who made the claims public; after she left E!, she “did [her] best to reinvent [herself] and find new employment in a different field.” She’s only now filed a police report to trigger an investigation that she believes will be more fair.
And in one of the column’s most revealing sentences, Hardy says that all she wanted when telling HR about the harassment in the first place was “an apology, some validation and some real action to protect women in the workplace.” She didn’t ask for Seacrest to be fired, jailed, or scrubbed from Hollywood’s memory. She simply asked for acknowledgment that the harassment had happened, was unacceptable, and wouldn’t happen again.
But as Hardy learned — and continues to learn in the face of those who prefer not to hear her — there is rarely any satisfaction to be had when coming forward against someone with far more power.
This piece has been updated noting the response from Seacrest’s attorney.