NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBSNews) – A former stylist for TV host and producer Ryan Seacrest is detailing sexual harassment allegations against him for the first time.
In an exclusive interview with Variety, Suzie Hardy described “numerous incidents of harassment and assault allegedly perpetrated by Seacrest” from 2007 to 2013.
As CBS News’ Jericka Duncan reported, Seacrest is one of America’s most recognizable TV personalities, but it’s his alleged actions off camera that are now putting him in the spotlight.
In the Variety interview, Hardy said she suffered “years of unwanted sexual aggression” by Seacrest, saying he grinded against her while wearing only his underwear, groped her genitals and slapped her buttock.
“Slapped her so hard that it left a welt that was still visible hours later when she got home,” said Variety’s senior TV reporter Daniel Holloway, who spoke with Hardy. “She photographed that welt, shared it with investigators. We’ve seen that photograph at Variety, as well.”
In 2013, Hardy says human resources for E! asked her about her relationship with Seacrest. She says she was fired after she told them what happened.
This past November, saying she was emboldened by the #MeToo movement, she had her lawyer send a letter to E! detailing her allegations. The company hired outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation, which found “insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations against Seacrest.”
Hardy told Variety that E!’s investigation left her with a feeling of “total exasperation,” saying, “it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side.”
“We know that the E! investigator did not reach out to four people that she referred to him, who she said could help corroborate her story,” said Holloway.
E! responded Monday, saying its “investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough… Any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless.”
Seacrest’s attorney says, “It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations.” He added that Hardy threatened to make false claims unless she was paid $15 million – a charge Hardy and her lawyer told Variety was untrue.
“We obviously wouldn’t have published this story if we didn’t feel that it was highly credible and highly compelling,” Holloway said.
Hardy became Seacrest’s personal stylist at E! News in 2007.