Prolific television and radio personality Ryan Seacrest continues to rebut accusations of repeatedly harassing his former E! News personal stylist Suzie Hardy, who worked for him from 2007-2013.
The initial allegations were made in November of last year, when an attorney for Hardy contacted the TV network, its parent company NBCUniversal, and Seacrest himself with a letter detailing Seacrest’s alleged abuse. He publicly denied all claims made against him.
According to details uncovered by Variety Monday, Hardy’s allegations included Seacrest “grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.”
In response to the report, Seacrest said in a statement Tuesday, “I don’t want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.”
E! conducted an independent investigation into Hardy’s allegations and on February 1 announced that insufficient evidence was found to substantiate her claims against the TV host.
“This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars,” Seacrest added Tuesday. “I refused.”
In response to Seacrest and in reference to the “Time’s Up” movement against sexual harassment, Hardy released her own statement to Variety late Tuesday.
“I remained quiet for years out of fears that my story wouldn’t be believed and that I would be subject to scorn and ridicule for telling it. I was emboldened by the bravery of others to finally and confidentially tell my story to NBC. Ryan elected to take the story public with a false narrative that he was exonerated and the victim of some sort of money grab. He is not the victim, and I refuse to let him victimize me for telling the truth.”
In a new development Wednesday, an unnamed colleague who previously worked alongside Hardy and Seacrest told NBC News that he witnessed some of the harassment she had described.
“She would go to tie his shoe and Ryan would shove her head toward his crotch,” the former coworker claims.
The source added that when prepping for an Oscars red carpet special in 2008, he himself witnessed Seacrest restraining Hardy from behind while she was yelling at him to stop.
“I could see an erect penis in his underwear,” he said.
Seacrest is an entertainment industry titan who hosts ABC’s Live With Kelly & Ryan daytime talk show, as well as the primetime juggernaut American Idol, which is returning to broadcast on March 11. The star is also once again scheduled to host E! Oscars red carpet coverage this Sunday. Both networks expressed continued support for Seacrest.
[Feature image: Ryan Seacrest/Associated Press]