On Monday, Variety published an interview with Suzie Hardy — who previously worked as Seacrest’s stylist on the E! show — in which she alleged that the TV host sexually assaulted her multiple times over the six years that she was employed by the network from 2007-13, including grabbing her crotch multiple times.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Seacrest denied the claims and accused Hardy of attempting to blackmail him. “Much has been said about the #MeToo and Times Up movement(s) and the importance of providing women and men with the opportunity to share their stories of workplace misconduct, in an effort to change our culture and the systemic inequalities that exist. I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories,” Seacrest’s statement begins.
“Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accused and countless others. Ultimately, my name was cleared. I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.”
“Yesterday, Variety published a salacious story that revealed the specific claims against me for the first time – even though an independent third-party investigator found insufficient evidence to support the claims. Much to my dismay, Variety didn’t speak with me or bother to speak with other credible witnesses or even ask for any of the evidence that was obtained during the investigation when offered, all of which clearly challenged the veracity of the claims made against me,” Seacrest says.
He concludes: “This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars. I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don’t take my opportunities for granted. I don’t want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.”
Hardy’s attorney, Howard E. King of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP, said of Seacrest’s denial statement: “Not only is that false, but it is an attempt to smear the victim and divert attention from her very specific and supportable claims.”
Her detailed claims come three months after Seacrest publicized her misconduct allegations by releasing a denial in November.
“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 his first denial 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 concluded: “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.”
WATCH: Ryan Seacrest Denies Misconduct Allegations Brought Against Him By Former Stylist
Hardy alleged in a Nov. 10 letter from her attorney — addressed to E! and obtained by Variety — that Seacrest hugged her while wearing only underwear more than 10 times during her employment with E! She also alleged that at one point, Seacrest was sitting in a director’s chair in the dressing room, only in his underwear, and said to her, “I just don’t think you’re attracted to me,” to which she replied, “I’m attracted to my paycheck.”
A year after being hired as his E! stylist, Hardy claimed in the letter that while walking to set, Seacrest slid his hand under her crotch area. “Oh my god, are you going to sue me?” Hardy claimed in the letter that Seacrest told her in 2008. “Not if I stay employed,” she replied.
One of Hardy’s former coworkers who worked at E! News told Variety he witnessed Seacrest assault Hardy on at least two separate occasions in 2009. In the first incident, both Hardy and her coworker claimed that Seacrest slapped her buttocks, which produced a welt hours later. She allegedly took a photo of it and gave it to E! and Variety.
One month later, Hardy and her coworker were in Seacrest’s Roosevelt Hotel suite in Hollywood, where she helped him dress for the Oscars. According to both Hardy and her former colleague, Seacrest was wearing only his underwear and had a visible erection; he allegedly threw Hardy onto the bed, where he climbed on top of her and rubbed his erection on her.
In 2010, Hardy was dating a prominent entertainment attorney. During a separate incident, while Hardy was tying his tie, Seacrest allegedly asked if the pair was intimate, to which she told him to not inquire about personal questions. She claimed he then proceeded to grab her vagina.
The letter, obtained by Variety, states that E!’s human resources executives asked to meet with Hardy in 2013. During their meeting, she asserted that she did not have a consensual physical relationship with Seacrest and reportedly said “But he touched me,” according to the letter. She told Variety that she told E! execs that Seacrest grabbed her vagina and detailed other sexual abuse claims to them.
Two weeks after her meeting, Hardy was reportedly informed that E! News would end her employment a week after the upcoming Oscars; from that point on, she had no in-person contact with the host. Two months later, Hardy told the outlet that Seacrest called her and said they would work together again in the future.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Monday, Seacrest’s attorney Andrew Baum said, “It is upsetting to us that Variety is electing to run a ‘story’ about untrue allegations that we 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.” Baum issued the same statement to Variety, which they included in their report.
Hardy challenged Seacrest’s statement in a new interview with Variety that was released on Tuesday.
“I remained quiet for years out of fears that my story wouldn’t be believed and that I would be subject to scorn and ridicule for telling it. I was emboldened by the bravery of others to finally and confidentially tell my story to NBC,” she said. “Ryan elected to take the story public with a false narrative that he was exonerated and the victim of some sort of money grab. He is not the victim, and I refuse to let him victimize me for telling the truth.”