Ryan Seacrest will not be removed from E! News' pre-Oscars coverage despite being accused of sexual harassment, The New York Times reports. The decision comes as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences prepares for its first Academy Awards ceremony following a wave of sexual assault and harassment accusations against some of the most powerful and prominent men in Hollywood.
Last November, Seacrest's former personal stylist, Suzie Hardy, accused the host/producer of sexual harassment while they worked together between 2007 and 2013. Seacrest denied any wrongdoing, and in February penned an essay for The Hollywood Reporter in which he claimed that "an independent third party found the claims to unsubstantiated and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on my part."
On Monday, however, Hardy spoke with Variety about Seacrest's alleged behavior and shared excerpts from a letter that her lawyer sent to NBC and E! last November. Hardy accused Seacrest of grabbing her crotch, and both she and a co-worker claimed that Seacrest, on different occasions, slapped Hardy's butt, tried to push Hardy's face into his crotch and rubbed his erect penis against her.
Hardy claimed she was fired in 2013 after telling human resources that Seacrest grabbed her crotch. E! said that Hardy was not fired, but that her job ended because Seacrest left his day-to-day job at the network.
In the wake of the Variety report, E! and its parent company, NBC Universal, reiterated the findings of the third party investigation into Seacrest's behavior as they backed him for their pre-Oscars coverage. "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 network said. "Any claims that question the legitimacy of this investigation are completely baseless."
Seacrest added, "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."