Last November, Ryan Seacrest was accused of harassment by his former wardrobe stylist at E!. Seacrest denied the sexual harassment allegations from the start, and then denied them again through a statement from his attorney in the wake of a recent Variety report published on Monday, Feb. 26. In the aftermath of Variety's report, which identified the stylist as Suzie Hardy and detailed her claims about the alleged abuse, Seacrest responded to the sexual assault allegations with a new statement on Tuesday afternoon. "This person who has accused me of horrible things tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — I refused," he said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Seacrest's statement opens by acknowledging how important it is to encourage women to speak up about workplace misconduct (especially now, in the midst of Hollywood's Time's Up movement). "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," the statement read, continuing on to say that Seacrest supports the cause "unequivocally" and commends "all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories."
As reported by THR, Seacrest's statement continued,
"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 tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — 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."
Bustle reached out to Hardy's attorney for comment on this new statement, but did not receive an immediate response. Update: On Tuesday, Hardy released a statement to Variety that read:
“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.”
Earlier: Variety's report marks the first time Hardy has gone public with her allegations. She first accused Seacrest of harassment last November, though her identity — as well as the details of the accusations — remained unknown. Seacrest responded to the allegations almost immediately, calling them "reckless" and denying them fiercely. At the time, Seacrest agreed to cooperate with E!'s internal investigation into the claims. Almost three months later, at the beginning of February, the network reported that it had completed its investigation (which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was spearheaded by outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal) and found "insufficient evidence to support the claims."
According to Variety's report, Hardy's decision to go public with the allegations was prompted, in large part, by Seacrest's response to the investigation's findings, as well as the findings themselves. Following the investigation's conclusion, Seacrest penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter (published on Feb. 5) titled, "What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment." In the column, Seacrest denied the claims once again. He wrote,
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching. I've always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion. Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds. I absolutely want to be part of the change, the progress, that is coming. I did not want to be a postscript of evidence of its cause."
According to Variety's recent report, Hardy was both "shocked and insulted" when she read Seacrest's guest column. And encouraged by the momentum of the #MeToo movement, she decided to speak out about her alleged experience.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.