Suzie Hardy was a single mother with a preschool-age daughter when she landed a job as Ryan Seacrest’s personal stylist for “E! News” in 2006. The position provided good pay and a schedule that would allow her to pick up her child from school most workdays.
But according to a November letter from Hardy’s attorney addressed to cable channel E!, its corporate parent NBCUniveral, and Seacrest, the job became an ordeal as Seacrest subjected Hardy to years of unwanted sexual aggression — 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.
Hardy claimed that she endured the abuse for years out of concern over being able to provide for her daughter, and that the situation only ended in 2013, when, after reporting Seacrest’s actions to human-resources executives, her employment ended.
Variety exclusively obtained a copy of the November letter and spoke on multiple occasions to Hardy and her attorney. In the letter and in exclusive interviews with Variety, Hardy described in detail numerous incidents of harassment and assault allegedly perpetrated by Seacrest over the years she was his stylist.
“As proud as I am and as strong as a woman as I am, as smart as I am and as much work as I’ve done with therapists, it really affected me,” Hardy told Variety of the abuse she said Seacrest subjected her.
Seacrest has repeatedly refuted Hardy’s claims.
The Nov. 10 letter from Hardy’s attorney — Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP — asked Seacrest and 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, and threatened “more formal action” if the request were ignored. On Nov. 17, Seacrest took the allegation public, announcing in a statement that E! was investigating a misconduct complaint against him made by “someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News,” and calling her claims “reckless allegations.” His statement effectively outed Hardy, who was known to those close to Seacrest and within E! as his longtime stylist.
Three months later, E! issued a statement saying that its investigation had concluded and found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.” The investigation was conducted by an outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal.
“Total exasperation was my definite feeling when I heard about it,” Hardy, who was interviewed three times by the independent investigator, told Variety. “I felt like by the third interview, it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.” Hardy claimed that the investigator never contacted four witnesses she had referred him to who could corroborate elements of her story.
Ryan Seacrest through the years
Ryan Seacrest through the years
Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Radio personality Ryan Seacrest poses for a portrait on August 30, 1993 in Atlanta, Georgia. Seacrest is Atlanta's WSTR-FM, Star 94 night DJ. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
NBC SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIE -- Pictured: Ryan Seacrest as Himself/Host (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest (STAR 98.7 Afternoon DJ) & Alanis Morissette (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest & Eric McCormack (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Jim Verraros, with hosts Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman, reacts to being selected to move on to the finals at the live broadcast of FOX-TV's 'American Idol' in Los Angeles, Ca. Wednesday, June 19, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX*** Please Call For Usage ***
Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell at the Fox Network's TCA Summer Tour Party at The Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, Ca. Monday, July 22, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect.
Brian Dunkleman, Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Seacrest at FOX-TV's 'American Idol' in Los Angeles, Ca. Wednesday, August 28, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX.*** Please Call For Usage ***
Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Justin Guarini, Paula Abdul, and Kelly Clarkson of American Idol backstage at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.
Hosts Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman with Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini before the announcement of the winner of American Idol at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca., Sept. 4, 2002. (photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest wearing (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest of 'American Idol' at the FOX 2003 Winter TCA Press Tour held at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles, CA on January 18, 2003. Photo by Barbara Binstein/ImageDirect.
Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest during 2003-2004 FOX Upfront - After Party at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universial City, Ca (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest during 2003 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest & Paris Hilton during 2003 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals at Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 26: Radio DJ, Ryan Seacrest and actress Brooke Burns pose with a Neutrogena gift bag at the 2003 Tall Pony Radio Music Awards gift lounge, outside the Aladdin Hotel and Casino, October 26, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest and Clay Aiken at the 2003 Billboard Music Awards (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16: 'American Idol' Host Ryan Seacrest during the FOX Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 16, 2004 at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest during 'American Idol' Season 3 - Top 12 Finalists Party - Arrivals at Pearl in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest during Barry Manilow and Jennifer Hudson Perform 'On Air with Ryan Seacrest' at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)
Jessica Simpson and Ryan Seacrest during Jessica Simpson Performs On Air with Ryan Seacrest at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson during Los Angeles Launch Party Hosted by Ryan Seacrest for The New Evite and Silent Auction to Benefit Rock The Vote at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, California, United States. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for Evit
Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell **EXCLUSIVE** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Ryan Seacrest during Marg Helgenberger and Ryan Seacrest Appear at Late Show with David Letterman - January 13, 2005 at Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic)
Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell during 2005 Fox's 'White Hot Winter' at Meson G Restaurant in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 17: American Idol's Ryan Seacrest (L), Randy Jackson and actress Paris Hilton pose at the 'White Hot Winter on Fox' TCA Party at Meson G on January 17, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 19: Ryan Seacrest speaks on stage during the pre-inaugural Celebration of Freedom event on the Ellipse January 19, 2005 in Washington, DC. Bush will be sworn into serve his second term as President of the United States January 20. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul during Nickelodeon's 18th Annual Kids Choice Awards - Press Room at Pauley Pavillion in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest during US Weekly & Jessica Simpson Celebrate The Young Hot Hollywood Style Awards at Element Hollywood in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Ryan Seacrest during 'America's Top 40 Live' with Ryan Seacrest at CBS Studios Stage 46 in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Lindsay Lohan and Ryan Seacrest (Photo by J. Merritt/FilmMagic for Us Weekly Magazine)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 2935 -- Pictured: (l-r) Radio personality Ryan Seacrest during an interview with host Jay Leno on May 16, 2005 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest, host with 'American Idol' Season 4 - Top 3 Finalist, Carrie Underwood, 21, from Checotah, Oklahoma (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell at the Central Park - The Boat House in New York City, New York (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest and Shana Wall during Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine Celebrate The 57th Annual Emmy Awards at Mondrian in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage)
Ryan Seacrest during 2005 West Hollywood Halloween Parade and Carnivale in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Ryan Seacrest introduces a performance by the Eurythmics at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
'American Idol' Season 5 -Top 20 Finalist, Chris Daughtry, 26, from McLeansville, North Carolina and Ryan Seacrest, host *EXCLUSIVE* ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic for Fox Television Network)
Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson wearing Tommy Hilfiger (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) 'American Idol' Season 5 - Ryan Seacrest, host and Zac Efron *EXCLUSIVE* (Photo by Ray Mickshaw/WireImage for Fox Television Network)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 24: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest performs onstage during the American Idol Season 5 Finale on May 24, 2006 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest during 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Backstage at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)
Leeza Gibbons, guest, Ryan Seacrest, Eva Longoria and Marla Maples (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3313 -- Pictured: (l-r) 'American Idol' judge Randy Jackson, host Ryan Seacrest and judge Simon Cowell during an interview with host Jay Leno on February 19, 2007 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Ryan Seacrest during 'Knocked Up' Los Angeles Premiere- Arrivals at Mann Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
Top 2 Finalists Jordin Sparks, 17, from Glendale, AZ and Blake Lewis, 25, from Bothell, WA as Ryan Seacrest, host, announcing the 'American Idol' Season 6 winner (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Singer Katharine McPhee (L) and television personality Ryan Seacrest perform at the 53rd Annual Young Musicians Foundation Gala, celebrating Merv Griffin, at the Beverly Hilton hotel on October 19, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 06: Actor Robin Williams (L) and host Ryan Seacrest speak onstage during the taping of Idol Gives Back held at the Kodak Theatre on April 6, 2008 in Hollywood, California. Idol Gives Back will air April 9, 2008 (7:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Radio Host Ryan Seacrest arrives at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theater on September 21, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02: Ryan Seacrest arrives at the 'Road To A Cure' Gala at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on December 2, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: Host Ryan Seacrest in Times Square during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2009 With Ryan Seacrest on December 31, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for DCPNYE)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: **Exclusive Coverage** (L-R) Hosts Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark pose during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2009 With Ryan Seacrest on December 31, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DCPNYE)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: Television hosts Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest sit court side in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2009 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 113-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 17: ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS*** (L-R) Host Ryan Seacrest and contestant Adam Lambert live on American Idol March 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The top 11 perform in front of the American Idol judges on Fox. (Photo by M Becker/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for Fox)
ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: (L-R) Ronald McDonald, Ryan Seacrest of American Idol and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear attend a toast to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities at World Of Coca-Cola Pop Culture Room on October 24, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: Host Ryan Seacrest celebrates onstage during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2010 in Times Square on December 31, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/DCNYRE2010/Getty Images for DCP)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: TV/Radio host Ryan Seacrest arrives at KIIS FM's Wango Tango 2010 at the Staples Center on May 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Julianne Hough (L) and Ryan Seacrest attend a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on October 31, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest attend the 'American Idol' Season 10 Press Conference at The Forum on September 22, 2010 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: Ryan Seacrest speaks at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011 in Times Square on December 31, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Walker/ DCNYRE2011/Getty Images for DCP)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Ryan Seacrest arrives at Treats! 2011 Pre-Oscar Magazine Launch Party at Goldstein Residence on February 24, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/FilmMagic)
ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Dancer Julianne Hough and TV personality Ryan Seacrest attend Fox's Super Bowl XLV Pregame Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
(L-R) Jonathan Cheban, Ryan Seacrest and Khloe Kardashian pose at the iHeartRadio iPad App Launch Event at The Standard Hotel on June 6, 2011 in New York City.
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 25: (NO BOOK PUBLISHING) Singer Scotty McCreery (R) is announced the American Idol for 2011 onstage with Ryan Seacrest during Fox's 'American Idol 2011' finale results show held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on May 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/American Idol 2011/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 09: Host Ryan Seacrest onstage before introducing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for his keynote address at CES 2012 during the annual Consumer Electronics Show on January 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 08: Host Ryan Seacrest speaks onstage during the 'American Idol' panel during the FOX Broadcasting Company portion of the 2012 Winter TCA Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 8, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: (L-R) Hana Hwang and host Ryan Seacrest backstage at FOX's 'American Idol' Season 11 Top 12 Guys Live Performance Show on February 28, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Julianne Hough and Ryan Seacrest attend The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: TV and radio personality Ryan Seacrest leaves the 'Today Show' taping at the NBC Rockefeller Center Studios on April 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Ryan Seacrest appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Host Ryan Seacrest onstage at FOX's American Idol Season 11 Top 4 To 3 Live Elimination Show on May 10, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Ellen K and Ryan Seacrest attend the ceremony honoring radio personality Ellen K with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame held on May 10, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Ryan Seacrest -- (Photo by: Dave Hogan/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest attends'American Idol' Season 12 Auditions on June 23, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: TV personality Ryan Seacrest leaves the 'Today Show' taping at NBC Rockefeller Center Studios on September 18, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18: TV personality Ryan Seacrest attends the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - DECEMBER 31: Ryan Seacrest host at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2013 in Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/DCNYRE2013/Getty Images for DCP)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - DECEMBER 31: Ryan Seacrest, Mc Hammer and Psy speak onstage at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2013 in Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/DCNYRE2013/Getty Images for DCP)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: TV Personality Ryan Seacrest and singer John Legend attend the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
AMERICAN IDOL XIII: (L-R) Judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, host Ryan Seacrest and judge Harry Connick Jr. arrive at the AMERICAN IDOL XIII Premiere Screening and Q & A Event at UCLA's Royce Hall in West Los Angeles, CA on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: TV personality Ryan Seacrest attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Musician Randy Jackson (L) and host Ryan Seacrest arrive at Fox's 'American Idol XIII' finalists party held at Fig & Olive Melrose Place on February 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: Ryan Seacrest attends the MOCA 35th anniversary gala celebration at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on March 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01: iHEARTRADIO MUSIC AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Recording artist Jennifer Lopez and tv personality Ryan Seacrest present the award for Artist of the Year onstage during the iHeartRadio Music Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on May 1, 2014. (Photo by Mark Davis/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 19: Radio personality Ryan Seacrest attends the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
DIAMOND BAR, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Tv personality Ryan Seacrest at the Ford Drive 4UR School Event with Ryan Seacrest, The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation at Diamond Bar High School on November 11, 2014 in Diamond Bar, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Ford)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05: TV personality Ryan Seacrest (L) and singer Ed Sheeran attend KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2014 powered by LINE at Staples Center on December 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 09: Ryan Seacrest poses for a portrait backstage at 102.7 KIIS FM's 2015 Wango Tango at StubHub Center on May 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images For 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 232 -- Pictured: (l-r) TV personality, Ryan Seacrest during an interview with host Seth Meyers on July 20, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 28: Ryan Seacrest and girlfriend Hilary Cruz is seen out and about leaving LAX on June 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA. in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by HEV/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
AMERICAN IDOL: (L-R) AMERICAN IDOL judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick. Jr. and Ryan Seacrest. AMERICAN IDOL PREMIERES IN January on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Ryan Seacrest poses at the Sound Strategy: Why Millennials and Gen Z Are Listening More panel presented by iHeartMedia during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII at the Times Center Stage on September 29, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images for AWXII)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Ryan Seacrest attends Z100's iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2015 arrivals at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Host Ryan Seacrest speaks on camera at the Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2016 on December 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/DCNYRE2016/Getty Images for dcp)
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“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough,” an E! spokesperson told Variety. “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’s attorney, Andrew Baum, told Variety, “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. 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 continued, “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.”
Hardy’s attorney told Variety that neither he nor Hardy has asked Seacrest, E!, or the cable channel’s corporate parents for any money. Seacrest’s representatives provided no evidence that a monetary request was made.
Hardy became Seacrest’s personal stylist on “E! News” in 2007. She lived across the street at the time from Seacrest’s personal assistant, and had worked with the host previously on a Vanity Fair shoot with Seacrest and the “American Idol” cast. Hardy said that Seacrest’s assistant approached her about the job, which would provide steady pay and regular hours — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. As a single mom, Hardy considered it a godsend.
“I couldn’t believe it was happening,” Hardy told Variety of the moment when she was offered the position. “I didn’t have to worry anymore. I was going to get a regular paycheck every week.”
The letter from Hardy’s attorney described the bond shared by Seacrest and his team at the time Hardy began styling the host as family-like. According to Hardy Seacrest’s assistant took an interest in her. The two women attended parties and concerts together, and Seacrest’s assistant would inquire often about Hardy’s personal life. Those questions allegedly gave way soon after to hints from the same assistant that Seacrest was interested in her romantically.
According to the November letter, Seacrest soon began asking her to be with him at times when her presence was obviously not required. On multiple occasions, Hardy said, she traveled at Seacrest’s request to his home to dress him, and also to the “American Idol” set, where he had another stylist. At one point, she said, he asked her through his assistant to come to his house after 8 p.m. to tie a necktie for him, a request Hardy refused. She said that when she expressed to Seacrest’s assistant concern about the propriety of going to the host’s house alone in the middle of the night, the assistant encouraged her to bring her young daughter with her as a form of protection.
Hardy claimed via the November letter that by the end of her first year working at E! that Seacrest’s assistant was often telling her about the host’s interest in her, saying he “is really into you” and “has a crush on you.” Hardy said that she declined Seacrest’s request while prepping for the 2007-08 “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” special to “take a nap” with him.
According to the letter, Seacrest’s behavior became more physical and aggressive beginning with an incident that took place in his E! dressing room — Hardy said in an interview that the event took place in 2007 — in which Seacrest, while wearing only underwear, wrapped her in what the letter described as “a bear hug,” and did not let go until his assistant walked in. The letter claimed that while working for Seacrest, he hugged her in his underwear more than 10 times.
Hardy said in an interview that early in her tenure, Seacrest would often give her gifts that felt excessive, such as a $1,000 spa gift certificate. On another occasion, she said Seacrest, sitting in a director’s chair in his underwear, told Hardy, who was alone with him in his dressing room, “I just don’t think you’re attracted to me,” to which Hardy said she responded, “I’m attracted to my paycheck.” She described Seacrest as near tearful during the exchange.
“I didn’t know how to deal with it,” she told Variety. “I really didn’t. I was battling finally being in a decent financial position to breathe and be a mom, that I didn’t have to be freaking out all the time, and then dealing with this infantile celebrity person who was testing me on every level and manipulating me and knew that I was in a vulnerable position.”
In 2008, according to the November letter, while walking to the set of “E! News,” Seacrest slid his hand under Hardy’s crotch. In an interview, Hardy said that he slid his hand in from behind, cupped her crotch, then quickly pulled it away again. Seacrest, according to the letter, then asked her “Oh my god, are you going to sue me?” to which Hardy responded, “not if I stay employed.”
A former co-worker of Hardy’s at “E! News” told Variety that Hardy described the incident to him at the time that it allegedly occurred, and also told him about several times when Seacrest hugged her against her will. 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.
The same co-worker, who was interviewed by E! investigators, also told Variety that he witnessed two incidents of assault by Seacrest that he and Hardy, in separate accounts, allege took place in 2009.
The first was said to have occurred as Seacrest and crew members were leaving an E! set, where Hardy — in the letter and in interviews — and her coworker claim that Seacrest forcefully slapped Hardy’s buttock. Hours later at her home, Hardy looked at her buttock in the mirror, found a red welt, and photographed it. Hardy provided the photo to E! investigators and to Variety. Her attorney commissioned an analysis of the photo’s metadata, which confirmed that the picture was taken on the same day on which Hardy claimed Seacrest struck her buttock.
Hardy — in the letter and in interviews — and the same coworker said that a month later they were in Seacrest’s suite at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood where Hardy was helping him dress for the Academy Awards. According to separate accounts from both, Seacrest, again in his underwear, this time with a visible erection, grabbed Hardy, threw her onto the hotel-room bed, and climbed on top of her, rubbing his erection against her — stopping only when Hardy’s co-worker began yelling at him.
What Hardy characterizes as the most egregious offense allegedly occurred on the set of “E! News” in 2010. Hardy was, at the time, dating a high-powered entertainment attorney — toward the beginning of a relationship that would last three years. According to the letter and interviews with Hardy, as she stood in front of Seacrest, tying his tie, Seacrest inquired about the relationship, asking, “Have you f–ked him yet?” When Hardy responded by telling Seacrest not to ask her such questions, Seacrest allegedly reached down and tightly grabbed her vagina. She retreated in tears to a bathroom, where, she said, a production assistant approached her a few minutes later offering to walk her to human resources, but warning her that she would probably be fired if she reported Seacrest’s behavior. Hardy declined the offer.
Two coworkers who were not present at the time of the incident and one friend of Hardy unconnected to “E! News” told Variety that they recalled Hardy telling them about Seacrest grabbing her vagina at the time that it allegedly occurred. A non-work associate said that Hardy told him about Seacrest grabbing her vagina and forcing himself on her at the Roosevelt Hotel. Another associate said that Hardy told her near the time that the incidents allegedly occurred about Seacrest grabbing her vagina and slapping her buttock.
Halloween 2017: Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest
Halloween 2017: Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest
#Halloween life swap - The treat was playing @kellyripa, the trick was the transformation #LIVEHalloween
Ryan Seacrest shared this gallery of photos of various Halloween costumes he and Kelly wore.
We have so many more surprises tomorrow on our #KellyandRyan #LiveHalloween! #StrangerThings
Under Gelman’s eye. #LIVEHalloween
Happy Halloween from little red and me! #livehalloween #livekellyandryan 👻😈🎃☠️🕷🕸
@ryanseacrest is a Wonder Woman and a helluva guy! #livekellyandryan #livehalloween 🕷🎃🕸👻
Date nights are the best! #livehalloween #livekellyandryan 👻🎃😜
Backstage at our biggest Show of the year #LiveHalloween! #KellyandRyan #Halloween #guardiansofthegalaxy #WonderWoman @michchampagne @hairbydianed @leglambeauty
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According to the letter, Hardy was asked in 2013 to meet with human-resources executives who inquired about the nature of her relationship with Seacrest — Hardy emphasized that she never sought out HR, but that HR sought out her — and whether it was physical. “I was very proud to say ‘No, I don’t [have a physical relationship with Seacrest],’” Hardy told Variety. “I never touched him, I never kissed him, I never f–ked him, nothing. But I said, ‘But he touched me.’”
Hardy said to Variety that she told the executives that Seacrest had grabbed her vagina on set, and described other alleged abuse to them. “I was in there for hours. I told them everything.”
Two weeks later, Hardy said, she was told that her employment at “E! News” would end one week after the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. She had no further in-person contact with Seacrest. On the day of the Oscars, she was directed to go to an empty hotel room, where she hung Seacrest’s tuxedo, then left. She did not dress him.
Hardy told Variety that Seacrest called her two months later offering vague assurances that the two would work together. Hardy expressed skepticism. Seacrest never offered her any future employment.
Since her departure from E!, Hardy has left the entertainment industry and now works for a San Francisco-based tech company. Seacrest — already a ubiquitous host and powerful television producer at the time that Hardy worked for him — has seen his star continue to rise. Last year, he became the new co-host of Kelly Ripa’s widely watched ABC daytime talk show, renamed “Live With Kelly & Ryan.” This year he is returning to the role that launched him to national notoriety as host of “American Idol,” currently filming in Los Angeles and set to premiere in March on ABC. His production company has an overall deal with ABC Studios.
Hardy sought therapy in the years since leaving “E! News.” (“I’ve seen every shrink in town,” she said.) Hardy felt emboldened to raise the issue of the alleged abuse she suffered — first in private with E!, then speaking to Variety after Seacrest made the allegation public and the cable channel’s investigation was completed — as she saw coverage of disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement begin to dominate the news cycle. She was shocked and insulted when, following the E! investigation, the Hollywood Reporter published a guest column under the headline “What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment,” in which Seacrest wrote that “an independent third party found the claims to be unsubstantiated and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on my part.” The E! statement said that the investigator found “insufficient evidence.” Seacrest’s assertion that no evidence of wrongdoing was presented further encouraged Hardy to speak out about the experience that she had only discussed privately during her E! years.
“I came from a freelance life, and it was scary,” she 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.”