Suzie Hardy was a single mother with a preschool-age daughter when she took the job as Seacrest's personal stylist for the entertainment news network in 2006. The position provided her with good pay and the ability to care for her child, but according to a November letter from Hardy's attorney to E!, its corporate parent NBCUniveral and Seacrest, the job also subjected her to years of unwanted sexual aggression from the on-air personality.
In her time working with Seacrest, Hardy claims he grinded his erect penis against her while wearing only underwear, groped her vagina and once slapped her buttock so hard that it left a large welt, visible hours later.
The former E! employee claimed that she endured the abuse for more than six years out of concern over being able to provide for her daughter. She said the situation ended in 2013, when she lost her employment after reporting Seacrest's actions to human resources staff.
According to Hardy's November letter, Seacrest took an immediate liking to her and asked her to be with him at unusual times outside her work hours. 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.
Hardy claimed 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 2008 New Year's Rockin' Eve special to "take a nap" with him.
Seacrest's behavior became more physical and aggressive beginning with an incident in his E! dressing room, Hardy recalled. She said that in an event in 2007, Seacrest, wearing only underwear, wrapped her in what she 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.
"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, Hardy claimed Seacrest slid his hand under her crotch while they walked to an E! set. She said he slid his hand in from behind, cupped her crotch, then quickly pulled it away again. Seacrest allegedly asked her, "Oh my god, are you going to sue me?" to which Hardy responded, "Not if I stay employed."
In 2009, Hardy, in a story corroborated by a coworker, claims Seacrest forcefully slapped her buttock. Hours later, the stylist said she looked in the mirror, found a red welt and photographed it. Hardy provided the photo and her attorney commissioned an analysis of the metadata, which confirmed that the picture was taken on the same day Hardy claims Seacrest struck her.
Hardy and the coworker said a month later they were in Seacrest's suite at the Roosevelt Hotel, where Hardy was helping him dress for the Academy Awards. They claim that Seacrest, again in his underwear and with a visible erection, grabbed Hardy, threw her onto the hotel-room bed and climbed on top of her, rubbing his erection against her.
In 2010, Hardy claims she endured the worst of the alleged abuse from Seacrest. At the time, she had just begun dating a high-powered entertainment attorney and as she stood in front of Seacrest, tying his tie ahead of an E! News appearance, Seacrest asked, "Have you f–ked him yet?"
When Hardy told Seacrest not to ask her such questions, he allegedly reached down and tightly grabbed her vagina. She ran in tears to a bathroom, where she said a production assistant approached her and offered to walk her to human resources. But warning her that she would probably be fired if she reported Seacrest's behavior, Hardy declined.
According to the letter, Hardy was asked in 2013 to meet with human-resources executives who asked about the nature of her relationship with Seacrest.
"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.'"
Two weeks after telling executives about the alleged abuse, Hardy was told her employment at E! News would end one week after the upcoming Academy Awards. On the day of the Oscars, she went to an empty hotel room where she hung Seacrest's tuxedo and left, having no further contact with him.
In the Nov. 10 letter from Hardy's attorney, Howard King, they 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 requests were ignored.
A week later, 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."
After three months, E! issued a statement earlier in February declaring that the investigation by outside counsel had concluded and found "insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest."
"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 parts of her testimony.
Despite Hardy's story, Seacrest's attorney, Andrew Baum, continues to pledge his client's innocence and claims Hardy attempted to blackmail him for money. Baum said Hardy "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 said. "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 countered that neither he nor Hardy has asked Seacrest or his affiliates for money.2comments
"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 alleged abuse she endured at Seacrest's hands.
Meanwhile, he penned a story for The Hollywood Reporter titled, "What Happened After I Was Wrongly Accused of Harassment." Following the allegations and investigation by E!, Seacrest as continued to work for the network and other high-profile projects, including his morning program Live! With Kelly and Ryan.