Suzie Hardy was a single mother with a preschool-age daughter when she landed a job as Ryan Seacrest’s personal stylist for “E! News” in 2006. The position provided good pay and a schedule that would allow her to pick up her child from school most workdays.
But according to a November letter from Hardy’s attorney addressed to cable channel E!, its corporate parent NBCUniveral, and Seacrest, the job became an ordeal as Seacrest subjected Hardy to years of unwanted sexual aggression — grinding his erect penis against her while clad only in his underwear, groping her vagina, and at one point slapping her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.
Hardy claimed that she endured the abuse for years out of concern over being able to provide for her daughter, and that the situation only ended in 2013, when, after reporting Seacrest’s actions to human-resources executives, her employment ended.
Variety exclusively obtained a copy of the November letter and spoke on multiple occasions to Hardy and her attorney. In the letter and in exclusive interviews with Variety, Hardy described in detail numerous incidents of harassment and assault allegedly perpetrated by Seacrest over the years she was his stylist.
“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 abuse she said Seacrest subjected her to.
Seacrest has repeatedly refuted Hardy’s claims.
The Nov. 10 letter from Hardy’s attorney — Howard King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP — 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 request were ignored. On Nov. 17, 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.” His statement effectively outed Hardy, who was known to those close to Seacrest and within E! as his longtime stylist.
Three months later, E! issued a statement saying that its investigation had concluded and found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.” The investigation was conducted by an outside counsel hired by NBCUniversal.
“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 elements of her story.
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough,” an E! spokesperson told Variety. “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. 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.”
Seacrest’s attorney, Andrew Baum, told Variety, “It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations that 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.”
(Excerpt) Read More in: Variety