Kelly Ripa Is 'Fully Supportive' of Ryan Seacrest Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegation, Source Says
Ryan Seacrest joined the ABC talk show in May 2017 after a lengthy search for Michael Strahan's replacement
E! isn’t the only employer standing by Ryan Seacrest as his former stylist accuses him of sexual harassment.
Seacrest’s Live! co-host and close friend Kelly Ripa “is fully supportive and 110 percent behind him,” a source tells PEOPLE. Spokespeople for both American Idol and iHeartMedia are also in full support.
Seacrest, 43, joined the ABC talk show in May 2017 after a lengthy search for Michael Strahan‘s replacement.
“He is just so professional and kind to everyone — and it’s not just ‘on-camera kind,’ ” Ripa, 47, told PEOPLE when he was announced as her co-anchor. “He doesn’t turn it on and off. He’s kind backstage, and he’s kind first thing in the morning.”
Stylist Suzie Hardy has accused the producer and TV host of sexually harassing and assaulting her over the six years that she was employed by E! from 2007-13, including grabbing her crotch multiple times.
Seacrest has staunchly denied Hardy’s allegations, he’s still set to host E!’s Oscars coverage Sunday.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Seacrest 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.”