Representatives for E! and ABC have both confirmed in separate statements to Cosmopolitan.com that Ryan Seacrest will continue to host his previously scheduled on-air gigs despite being accused of sexual abuse and harassment by his former E! stylist Suzie Hardy.
Seacrest will host American Idol starting March 11, an ABC spokesperson confirmed via email. The singing competition show, which helped launch Seacrest’s career in 2002 and garnered him several Emmy nominations, is coming back on the air after a two-year hiatus.
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E! also confirmed that they are not replacing Seacrest as the host of E! Live from the Red Carpet at the 90th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday night. An E! spokesperson tells Cosmopolitan.com:
“E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough. 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 and all firsthand witnesses that she provided. 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.”
A rep reiterated the same sentiment to Variety stating, “Of course he is” when asked whether Seacrest will host Sunday’s live show.
Scandal star Bellamy Young is one of the first celebrities to speak out against Seacrest, stating that he should “step aside” from his hosting duties.
“This is the time to step aside and let someone of equal talent that is beyond reproach to be in charge,” Young told Variety. “It’s funny because I know it feels like the rules have changed so I’m sure people who have been in dominant positions are taken by surprise, many of them living in fear, many of them thinking, ‘but this is how we said we’d act.’ But we never said that. We never consented. Now that someone is asking, ‘Do you consent,’ and we get to say ‘no,’ people have to accept our no and step aside.”
In an attorney’s letter obtained by Variety, Seacrest’s accuser alleged that she was subjected to “years of unwanted sexual aggression” which included Seacrest allegedly “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 several hours later.”
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Seacrest denied the allegations when they first broke in November, saying in part, “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.” At that time, E! announced that it was starting an internal investigation, which has now concluded and found “insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest.”
Seacrest did not address Hardy’s allegations on Live With Kelly and Ryan on Tuesday, Entertainment Weekly reports. According to Buzzfeed, an ABC spokesperson said that Seacrest will also continue his duties alongside Ripa at the daily morning talk show.
Update 2/27, 4:35 p.m. Ryan Seacrest has released a statement in response to the Variety report:
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.
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.
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.