“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,” accuser Suzy Hardy told Variety late Tuesday as Seacrest released a lengthy statement that fell just short of calling her a liar.
“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,” Seacrest said, fighting back against a Variety story detailing allegations against him in November.
He reiterated that he’d been cleared by a third-party investigator and said Hardy had repeatedly asked him for millions of dollars in exchange for her silence.
On Wednesday, Hardy was supported by a former co-worker who said he witnessed some of the behavior she has alleged.
“She would go to tie his shoe and Ryan would shove her head toward his crotch. I saw that more than once,” the source told Kate Snow of NBC News.
The source vouched for Hardy’s account of Seacrest grabbing Hardy from behind in a hotel room in 2009, wearing only his underwear, with an erect penis. The source also said he saw a welt that Hardy alleged came from the host smacking her on the butt.
The source, who requested anonymity for fear of professional retaliation, was directed to NBC News by Hardy’s attorney. Sources close to Seacrest dismissed the source as a friend of Hardy’s and a disgruntled E! News employee, and provided video intended to show the host was actually uncomfortable with Hardy tying his shoes, NBC said.
Meanwhile, ABC and E! have continued to stand by the “Live With Kelly and Ryan!” co-host, who’s a major name at both networks. He first denied the accusations in early February in an essay for the Hollywood Reporter, after he was cleared by a two-month, third-party E! investigation.
“I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process,” Seacrest said Tuesday in his statement. “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.”
He said that before it published its detailed story Monday, the trade paper didn’t speak to him or other “credible witnesses” or ask for evidence from the investigation that had been offered up and challenged the “veracity” of the claims against him.
Variety said late Tuesday that it asked to speak with Seacrest on Monday, before publishing, but that the host’s reps did not make him available for comment, instead providing a statement from his attorney.
Hardy told Variety on Tuesday that she had stayed quiet for years because she thought people wouldn’t believe her story, but was emboldened last year by others.
Some publicists told Page Six on Tuesday night that they’ll direct many of their clients toward co-host Giuliana Rancic instead of Seacrest before the Academy Awards, or avoid stopping to talk to E! News entirely.
It’s been a rough awards season already for E!. The network was taken to task by Eva Longoria and other Hollywood actresses over how E! had treated former host Catt Sadler, who departed because of pay inequality.