Shortly after E! dismissed allegations against Ryan Seacrest filed by a former stylist, Variety published the allegations in full after obtaining a letter from the stylist's attorney. The alleged abuse included instances of inappropriate touching as well as verbal harassment, including a claim that in 2010, Seacrest, after asking about stylist Suzie Hardy's new relationship, reached down and grabbed her crotch.
"E!’s investigation was extremely comprehensive and thorough," they told the outlet in a statement. "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."
It's worth asking, however, how this will change the tone of the red carpet. Seacrest has previously been called out for not asking enough questions about Time's Up and sexual assault in Hollywood, especially to the men, and it will be hard to ignore the allegations when we see him on our screens this Sunday. After all, this is one of the biggest nights in Hollywood, which is currently going through a giant reckoning in the wake of the initial allegations of sexual misconduct against producer Harvey Weinstein. The night of the Oscars is perhaps the time to talk about all of this on a national level, but how appropriate is it to usher it in with a person who stands accused of this very misconduct front and centre?
That being said, Seacrest has adamantly denied these allegations from the start, getting ahead of the story and breaking the news himself. His denial is corroborated by E! News, who said they "found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated."
I can see this going a couple ways, but the most likely one is that it will discourage Seacrest from bringing up the topic of sexual assault at all, on a night that really, truly calls for its discussion. It seems less likely that he'll address his own situation, or that a star will call it out during an interview, thought we can be on the lookout for either.
This puts viewers in a tough spot. Instead, the Oscars should do what we've been asking for all along, but what's made even more necessary after the past few months, and that's let women's voices fill the room for a change. I've said it once and I've said it again and I've said it again and I guess I'll say it again: men, it's okay for you to sit a couple things out.
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