Suzie Hardy has accused the producer and TV host of sexually harassing and assaulting her over the six years that she was employed by the network from 2007-13, including grabbing her crotch multiple times.
On the morning show, the unnamed source corroborated her account.
“She would go to tie his shoe and Ryan would shove her head toward his crotch. I saw that more than once,” the source said, adding that before an Oscars Red Carpet special in 2008, Seacrest allegedly held Hardy in a bear hug from behind: “She yelled get off of me. She was trying to get away from him. I could see an erect penis in his underwear.”
Seacrest, 43, has staunchly denied Hardy’s allegations, and his network is standing by him — 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.”