Ryan Seacrest made his first comments on Tuesday after his former stylist went public with claims that he repeatedly sexual harassed her — allegations the TV star denies.
"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," Seacrest said in an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News.
This Hollywood awards season has been dominated by the Time's Up movement, but Seacrest will be on the Oscars red carpet for what is arguably the biggest event of the season this Sunday, despite the allegation against him.
E! conducted a probe into the allegation, which was brought to its attention in November, but found "insufficient evidence" to substantiate the claims.
"E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough," an E! spokesperson said.
An ABC spokesperson also said Seacrest would continue his duties on Live with Kelly and Ryan, as well as the reboot of American Idol, which is slated to premiere March 11.
Suzie Hardy, who said Seacrest harassed her, went public with her story Monday, telling Variety that he grabbed her genitals, gave her a "bear hug" while wearing only underpants, and forcefully slapped her buttocks, leaving a red welt.
She told Variety that E!'s human resources department sought her out for an interview in 2013 to inquire about the relationship between her and Seacrest. “I was very proud to say ‘No, I don’t [have a physical relationship with Seacrest],’” she said she told them. “I never touched him, I never kissed him, I never fucked him, nothing. But I said, ‘But he touched me.’”
“I was in there for hours," Hardy told Variety. "I told them everything.”
Two weeks later, she said, she was fired.
On Wednesday morning, NBC Nightly News Anchor Kate Snow interviewed one of Hardy’s former co-workers, who claims to have witnessed inappropriate behavior from Seacrest, on a segment for Today.
The source was kept anonymous by the outlet because he still works in Hollywood and was fearful of retaliation.
The former co-worker told Snow over phone that Seacrest had allegedly pushed Hardy’s face in his crotch while she tied his shoe during one instance.
Another time, during an Oscars red carpet special in 2008, while Hardy was helping Seacrest prepare for the event, the former co-worker says he saw Seacrest holding Hardy in a bear hug.
“She yelled get off me,” the source said. “She was trying to get away from him.” He went on to say that Seacrest was in his underwear with a visibly erect penis.
Per NBC, a source close to Seacrest dismissed the claims from the anonymous source, calling him a disgruntled ex-employee.
When Hardy's attorney wrote to E! in November 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, the network investigated her claim.
“I felt like by the third interview [with the independent investigator], it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side," she told Variety. She also alleged E!'s investigator did not contact four witnesses she referred.
E!, however, disputed this.
"Over the course of a two month process, our outside counsel interviewed more than two dozen people regarding allegations, including multiple separate meetings with the claimant and all firsthand witnesses that she provided," the E! spokesperson said. "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 criticized Variety for their "salacious story," saying they did not speak to him prior to publishing.
He also accused Hardy of offering to withdraw her claims "on multiple occasions" if he paid her millions of dollars.
"Ultimately, my name was cleared," he said. "I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process."
It remains to be seen whether any stars will bring up the allegations during Sunday's red carpet coverage.
At January's Golden Globes, actor Debra Messing shamed E! while appearing on the channel after Catt Sadler left the network upon learning she did not make the same as her male cohost.
Read Seacrest's full statement:
Much has been said about the #MeToo and Times Up movement(s) and the importance of providing women and men with the opportunity to share their stories of workplace misconduct, in an effort to change our culture and the systemic inequalities that exist. I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories.
Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accused and countless others. Ultimately, my name was cleared. I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.
Yesterday, VARIETY published a salacious story that revealed the specific claims against me for the first time – even though an independent third-party investigator found insufficient evidence to support the claims. Much to my dismay, Variety didn’t speak with me or bother to speak with other credible witnesses or even ask for any of the evidence that was obtained during the investigation when offered, all of which clearly challenged the veracity of the claims made against me.
This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars. I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don’t take my opportunities for granted. 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.