Ryan Seacrest is denying accusations that he sexually abused his former E! Network stylist, saying Suzie Hardy demanded $15 million from him before she went public with her story.
Variety reported Monday that Hardy accused Seacrest of subjecting her “to years of unwanted sexual aggression” while she was his stylist from 2006-2013, including “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.”
Seacrest’s lawyer said that it was “upsetting” that Variety chose to run Hardy’s story, saying that Hardy threatened to make the “false claims” if she did not receive $15 million. Hardy’s attorney told Variety that “neither he nor Hardy has asked Seacrest, E!, or the cable channel’s corporate parents for any money.”
“It is upsetting to us that VARIETY is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations that we were made against my client, after they were told that the accuser threatened to make those false claims against him unless he paid her $15 million,” Seacrest’s attorney Andrew Baum said in a statement to TheWrap. “At that time, the claimant threatened to issue a demonstrably false press statement unless she was paid. Instead, my client proactively and publicly denied the claims and agreed to fully cooperate with E!’s investigation about the matter.”
Baum’s statement went on: “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. 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.”
In a Nov. 10 letter, Hardy’s attorney Howard King said Seacrest’s former stylist was “emboldened” to speak out after the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement, and that she wanted Seacrest to “take responsibility for his actions, to encourage the networks to take steps to prevent ongoing victimization of all women, and to emphasize the need for the entertainment industry to cease condoning inappropriate and oppressive sexual behavior.”
The letter, addressed to Seacrest, E! and NBC Universal, said that Hardy was willing to provide Seacrest and the networks with “one week 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 the Claimant.”
King did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on Monday.
Seacrest announced on Nov. 17 that E! was investigating an allegation of misconduct against him by “someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News.”
Variety cited a former co-worker of Hardy’s at E! News who said Hardy described an incident to him in 2008 of Seacrest sliding his hand under her crotch. “He said that he saw Seacrest trip Hardy on numerous occasions, and that he also saw Seacrest multiple times push Hardy’s head into his crotch while she was tying his shoes,” Variety reported.
On Feb. 1, E! released a statement saying that the independent investigation into Hardy’s claims found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.”
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough,” an E! Spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap Monday. “Over the course of a two-month process, our outside counsel interviewed more than two dozen people regarding the allegations, including multiple separate meetings with the claimant. 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 wrote a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, in which he said “to have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.