After attempting to clear his name by writing a very public feature in The Hollywood Reporter about what it’s like to be wrongly accused of sexual misconduct, Ryan Seacrest is back in headlines for the same alleged incidents that occurred between him and a stylist that was employed with the E! network.
As Variety reports, Suzie Hardy began working as a personal stylist for E! in 2006. She was a single mom with a small child for whom the new gig offered some much needed stability. However, a letter from her attorney to the network claims what seemed like a godsend turned into years of being subjected to Seacrest’s unsolicited sexual advances, which included groping her genitals, grinding his genitals up against her when he was only wearing underwear, and slapping her butt so hard it left a welt. What began as a close professional relationship as Seacrest’s personal stylist, quickly devolved into something insidious. Seacrest’s personal assistant allegedly told Hardy that Seacrest was interested in her romantically, and as Hardy claims, Seacrest began pursuing her more and more aggressively. A female co-worker of Hardy’s, who was interviewed as part of E!’s investigations, told Variety she witnessed Seacrest assault her at work, tripping Hardy or pushing her head into his crotch as she tied his shoes.
Hardy says she stuck it out for fear of not being able to provide for her child. "I came from a freelance life, and it was scary," Hardy told Variety. "It was hard to raise a child and not know where your next check was going to come from, and if that gig was going to take me out of town for two weeks. It was a better deal all the way around, even if I was being abused. It’s sick to say, but it was true." According to Hardy, the abuse only stopped when she reported Seacrest’s behavior to HR, at which point her employment was terminated. Since then, Hardy has left the entertainment industry to pursue a career in tech.
In January, E! had issued a statement saying that an investigation, which was conducted by an outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal, had found "insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest." Speaking to Variety, Seacrest’s attorney said, "It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations that 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." Hardy’s attorney denies that she made such a demand, and Seacrest’s legal team has failed to provide evidence that such a request was made.