Details emerged on Monday about the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Ryan Seacrest last fall by his former E! News wardrobe stylist, Suzie Hardy.
After hearing about the allegations, "Scandal" star Bellamy Young said Seacrest should not host E!'s coverage of the Oscars red carpet on Sunday, as he traditionally does. Hollywood actresses have used red carpet appearances this season to show solidarity with and support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.
Seacrest, one of Hollywood's busiest personalities with hosting gigs on both "American Idol" and "Live with Kelly and Ryan," has repeatedly denied Hardy's allegations.
There apparently was no mention of the allegations on Tuesday morning's "Live with Kelly and Ryan" show.
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Hardy, who began working with Seacrest as his personal stylist for E! News in 2007, accused him last fall of years of sexually aggressive behavior toward her, including grabbing her vagina and rubbing his erect penis against her.
Variety, which detailed her allegations on Monday, interviewed one of Hardy's former E! News co-workers who said he saw Seacrest assault her on at least two separate occasions in 2009 - once slapping her so hard on her rear that the resulting welt lasted for hours. Hardy allegedly took a photo of it and gave it to both Variety and E!
The co-worker also told Variety he saw Seacrest trip Hardy on numerous occasions and saw him push her head into his crotch while she was tying his shoes.
In November, Hardy's attorney sent a letter detailing the alleged abuse to Seacrest, E! and NBCUniversal. Variety obtained a copy of the letter and published its details on Monday.
An attorney for Seacrest told Variety that Hardy threatened to make false claims against Seacrest unless he paid her $15 million. Hardy's attorney denied the accusation of a money grab and Seacrest's reps provided no evidence, Variety reported.
Hardy, who was a single mother with a young daughter when she started working with Seacrest, claims she put up with the alleged behavior to keep a job with good pay and a flexible schedule. She claims her employment ended in 2013 just weeks after she reported Seacrest to human resources executives, according to Variety.
"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.
The Nov. 10 letter 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.
One week later, Seacrest made the allegations public, saying in a statement that the network was investigating a complaint of misconduct against him by "someone that worked as a wardrobe stylist for me nearly a decade ago at E! News" and calling the claims "reckless allegations."
Earlier this month E! announced that an outside counsel hired by parent company NBCUniversal had concluded there was not enough evidence to support Hardy's claims. An E! spokeswoman told Variety that the two-month investigation was "extremely comprehensive and thorough."
“E! has now concluded the investigation into allegations regarding Ryan Seacrest,” a network spokesperson said in a statement. “The investigation, conducted by outside counsel, found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated. E! is committed to providing a safe working environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity."
In February, Seacrest wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter under this headline: "What Happened After I was Wrongly Accused of Harassment."
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching," he wrote. "I’ve always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion.
"Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds. The pressures of our overflowing newsfeeds would insist on it."
This is the second controversy to hit E! in recent months, and it has not gone unnoticed by the women of Hollywood.
In December, popular E! News host Catt Sadler quit after she found out her male co-host was making more money for doing virtually the same job. Sadler claimed the network refused to address the inequity, which she said existed for years, during contract negotiations, so she quit.
At the Golden Globes in January, "Will & Grace" star Debra Messing called out E! for the pay issue during the network's live coverage of the red carpet.
Seacrest is set to host the Oscars red carpet coverage on Sunday. But Young thinks he shouldn't.
“I think this is the time to step aside and let someone of equal talent that is beyond reproach to be in charge," Young told Variety on Monday at the "Wrinkle in Time" premiere.
Hardy told Variety she felt "total exasperation" when she heard the results of the network's investigation into her charges. She said she was interviewed three times by the independent investigator.
"I felt like by the third interview, it was obvious the investigator was whitewashing it for Seacrest’s side," she told Variety, claiming the investigator never contacted the four witnesses she offered to corroborate her charges.
Reported by Variety, the letter from Hardy's attorney provided much detail about Seacrest's alleged behavior.
Once, she claims, while sitting in a chair in only his underwear, Seacrest told her, "I just don't think you're attracted to me."
She says she replied, "I'm attracted to my paycheck."
“I didn’t know how to deal with it,” Hardy 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 the November letter she said that in 2008, while walking with Seacrest on the E! News set, he slid his hand under her crotch.
She told Variety that he cupped her from behind, then quickly pulled his hand away. "Oh my god, are you going to sue me," he allegedly asked her.
"Not if I stay employed," she said.
One of her former co-workers told Variety that Hardy told him about the incident when it happened.
She and that same co-worker said they were in Seacrest's suite at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood a month later where Hardy was helping him dress for the Oscars.
In separate accounts, they both claim that Seacrest, wearing only underwear, threw Hardy on the bed, climbed on top of her and began rubbing his erection against her. The co-worker says he stopped when he yelled at Seacrest.
Variety interviewed co-workers and non-work associates who said Hardy told them about some of these instances at the time they happened.
She said she came forward with the allegations as she watched the scandal around mogul Harvey Weinstein unfold. She has since left the entertainment industry and now works for a San Francisco-based tech company, according to Variety.