UPDATED with NBC News report of a witness who has corroborated some of Suzie Hardy’s allegations.
Suzie Hardy, the former “E! News” stylist who has accused Ryan Seacrest of years of sexual harassment and abuse, is challenging the host’s attempt to discredit her allegations.
“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,” Hardy told Variety Tuesday. “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 story published Monday by Variety, Hardy accused Seacrest of multiple incidents of sexual harassment and assault. Hardy, who served as his personal stylist for “E! News” from 2007 to 2013, said that he subjected her to years of unwanted sexual aggression — grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.
On Wednesday, NBC News reported that a male former co-worker of Hardy’s had come forward to corroborate the stylists’ accusations. NBC News said the man spoke on condition of anonymity because he still works in the entertainment industry and feared retaliation.
“She would go to tie his shoe and Ryan would shove her head toward his crotch,” the former co-worker told NBC News correspondent Kate Snow by phone. “I saw that more than once.”
The man told NBC News that he observed Seacrest holding Hardy in a bear hug from behind while she was helping him get ready to host an Oscars red carpet special.
“She yelled get off of me,” the former co-worker said. “She was trying to get away from him.” He said that Hardy was “visibly shaken” and that he urged her to report the incident to E!’s human resources department.
Variety asked to speak with Seacrest Monday prior to the story’s publication. His representatives did not make him available, instead offering a statement from his lawyer decrying “untrue allegations that were made against my client,” which Variety published in its entirety.
On Tuesday, Seacrest gave a statement to the Hollywood Reporter saying, “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.” He also accused Hardy of making a demand for $15 million, which Hardy and her attorney have told Variety is not true. Seacrest’s representatives provided no evidence to Variety that such a monetary request was made.
Seacrest also claimed that “Variety didn’t speak with me” or ask for evidence obtained during the investigation of sexual misconduct allegations. Variety spent an hour on the phone prior to publication with Seacrest’s representatives (his publicist and his lawyer), who refused to provide any such evidence, citing legal restrictions.
E! announced Feb. 1 that an independent investigator hired by the cable channel to look into Hardy’s allegations found “insufficient evidence” of wrongdoing on Seacrest’s part. Hardy’s attorney provided details of Hardy’s allegations to E!, its corporate parent NBCUniversal, and Seacrest in a Nov. 10 letter asking 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” of Hardy. Seacrest took the allegation public a week later, announcing in a statement that E! was investigating a misconduct complaint against him and calling her claims “reckless allegations.”
The full details of the allegations and the name of Seacrest’s accuser were not known until Variety published its story Monday, in which Hardy spoke publicly about her experiences working for Seacrest for the first time. Hardy told Variety that the E! investigator declined to interview four people she referred to him who could corroborate elements of her story. “The investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side,” she said.
In a statement Monday, E! told Variety, “Any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless.”