Ryan Seacrest will host E!’s red carpet coverage ahead of the Oscars on Sunday, despite graphic accusations of sexual misconduct by his former stylist.
E! confirmed to PEOPLE that the 43-year-old on-air personality will move forward with his commitment to host the live show after the network’s investigation found “insufficient evidence” to support the claims he sexually harassed former employee Suzie Hardy.
A spokesperson for ABC’s Live! With Kelly and Ryan also confirmed to the outlet that the live daytime talk show will continue as scheduled with Seacrest as host, a statement echoed by iHeartMedia, which hosts his radio show.
Hardy, who worked as Seacrest’s personal stylist from 2007 to 2013, detailed the ongoing misconduct she said she suffered at Seacrest’s hands in a letter in November sent to Seacrest, E! and its parent company NBC Universal. She also spoke to Variety about the alleged abuse, during which she claims Seacrest grabbed her crotch, hugged her while wearing only underwear and threw her on a bed before rubbing his erection on her.
Hardy also said that after Human Resources approached her about whether she was engaged in a relationship with Seacrest, she reported the allegations and was subsequently fired a short time later.
“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 said of the alleged abuse she endured at Seacrest's hands.
Despite the disturbing claims, E! says it conducted a three-month independent investigation into the matter and cleared the longtime host of wrongdoing.
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough. 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 and all firsthand witnesses that she provided,” a spokesperson for E! told PEOPLE.
“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,” the network’s spokesperson continued.
Following the letter sent by Hardy and her attorney in November, Seacrest made the allegations against him public in a statement expressing his innocence.
“Recently, someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News, came forward with a complaint suggesting I behaved inappropriately toward her. If I made her feel anything but respected, I am truly sorry. I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result,” he said in a statement.
“I treat all my colleagues with kindness, dignity, and understanding, as this is a principle that’s core to who I am. Throughout my 25 years in the entertainment industry, the majority of my co-workers have been women, and I’ve endeavored to foster a positive work environment of mutual respect and courtesy, as that’s how I believe it should be,” Seacrest continued.
He concluded by adding, “I’m distraught that anyone or any situation would call that into question. I’m proud of my workplace reputation, and believe my track record will speak for itself. I’m an advocate for women. I will continue to support their voices.”1comments
After Hardy shared her story of recurring harassment and abuse to Variety, Seacrest’s attorney Andrew Baum claimed that she attempted to blackmail him for $15 million. The counsel claimed that Hardy threatened to make her allegations public if she was not paid the massive sum, to which Seacrest responded by making a public statement to reveal news of the investigation.
Hardy’s attorney countered that neither he nor Hardy has asked Seacrest or his affiliates for money. Baum also could not provide evidence of Hardy’s alleged shakedown for the eight-figure sum.