Suzie Hardy says she was sexually harassed by Ryan Seacrest for years and assaulted multiple times—but as the single mother of a young daughter, she needed the money she was making as his personal wardrobe stylist for E! News. In a letter to lawyers and interviews with Variety, she describes how his behavior gradually became more aggressive after she took the job in 2007 and Seacrest's assistant told her the host had a crush on her. Hardy says Seacrest used to grind against her while wearing only underwear, groped her crotch on two occasions, and once slapped her buttocks so hard that a red welt was visible for hours. A co-worker backs up her account, saying he witnessed behavior including Seacrest pushing Hardy's face into his crotch while she was tying his shoes.
"It was hard to raise a child and not know where your next check was going to come from," she says of her former freelance gigs, "and if that gig was going to take me out of town for two weeks. It was a better deal all the way around, even if I was being abused. It's sick to say, but it was true." She says she was fired two weeks after reporting the abuse to execs in 2013, People reports. Seacrest’s attorney, Andrew Baum, says the accuser threatened to make false claims against Seacrest unless he paid her $15 million. He says she is only coming to the press with "debunked" claims now because the network's independent third-party investigation found there was "insufficient evidence" to support the accusations. Hardy's lawyer says she never asked for money. Seacrest has denied the allegations, saying, "If I made her feel anything but respected, I am truly sorry."