Details of alleged sexual harassment and groping by “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest have now come forth.
Seacrest’s former hair stylist, Suzie Hardy, told Variety in an exclusive interview that she was fired from E! in 2013 after informing the network’s human resources department about the celebrity’s alleged sexual misconduct, which included grabbing her while he was dressed in only his underwear.
Hardy’s Variety interview came after she was outed as Seacrest’s accuser in November, when the “Live with Kelly and Ryan” co-host took the allegations public, calling them “reckless.”
“If I made her feel anything other than respected, I am truly sorry,” Fox News reported Seacrest as saying. “I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result.”
Hardy said she was a single mother raising a preschool-age daughter when Seacrest’s assistant offered her the job in 2007.
She claimed to be the victim of numerous incidents of sexual harassment and groping over the next several years.
In 2008, the TV personality allegedly grabbed Hardy’s crotch from behind and then asked “Oh my god, are you going to sue me?”
“Not if I stay employed,” Hardy claimed to have responded.
In another incident, Seacrest allegedly slapped his hair dresser so hard that her buttocks had a red welt for hours after.
Hardy also told Variety that Seacrest appeared in front of her wearing only his underwear on more than one occasion. In one instance, a nearly naked Seacrest enveloped her in a bear hug and didn’t let go until another person walked into the room.
Another day, Seacrest, again in his underwear, allegedly pushed Hardy onto a bed and rubbed his erect penis against her, stopping when a co-worker in the same room yelled at him.
Hardy said she kept the incidents to herself out of fear of losing her job, but was eventually contacted by HR in 2013 and asked about the TV host’s behavior.
According to Hardy, she was fired shortly after telling the network her story.
Last year, NBCUniversal, E!’s parent company, hired an outside counsel to investigate the allegations. The probe ultimately determined there was “insufficient” evidence to support the claims.
“Total exasperation was my definite feeling when I heard about it,” Hardy lamented. “I felt like by the third interview, it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.”
Andrew Baum, Seacrest’s lawyer, told Fox News his client went public with the allegations because Hardy had asked for a payout to keep quiet, a claim the stylist’s attorneys have denied.
A statement from Seacrest’s legal team read:
“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. 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.”
Earlier this month, Seacrest penned a column for Hollywood Reporter titled “What happened after I was wrongly accused of harassment.”
“Most of us agree that the presumption of innocence is an important standard,” Seacrest wrote. “[W]e must find a way to ensure that everyone … is given the opportunity for a swift and fair review.”