Ryan Seacrest on misconduct claim: "To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/06/2018
Ryan Seacrest is opening up about what life was like in the weeks after he was wrongly accused of harassment by a former wardrobe stylist.
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching. I've always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion," the American Idol host wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter.
Ryan said he received a letter from a lawyer representing a former female stylist in November 2017 claiming he had "mistreated her" -- with no specific details -- more than a decade ago when they worked together.
The former E! News stylist requested a substantial financial payment in exchange for her silence, according to The Reporter, but Ryan instead decided to publicly deny and dispute what he called "reckless allegations" at the time.
Ryan said that on February 1, he received notice "an independent third party found the claims to be unsubstantiated" and there was "no evidence of wrongdoing" on his part.
Ryan wrote for The Reporter that he has learned never to take things for granted, especially because he's living out his "childhood dream" every day thanks to "the efforts of so many other people."
"I do my best to show and express my gratitude to my co-hosts, producers, guests, audiences, executives, partners and fans for the privilege of their collaboration and participation, and for the unwavering support of my loved ones and team," Ryan insisted.
The allegations were brought against Ryan last year as part of the "Me Too" movement in which women have felt empowered to come forward with claims of sexual assault against prominent figures in Hollywood -- including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Piven.
Ryan called this "unprecedented public reckoning by women" in the industry "courageous," but at the same time, he found many of these stories "heartbreaking."
"These women sought to bring attention to the systemic gender inequality that has occurred for decades. I was -- and am -- amazed at their bravery," Ryan wrote.
In Ryan's case however, he considered himself to be completely innocent.
"Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds. The pressures of our overflowing newsfeeds would insist on it," he shared.
"I absolutely want to be part of the change, the progress, that is coming. I did not want to be a postscript of evidence of its cause."
Ryan said he shared the lawyer's November letter with E!, denied all claims, and then agreed to participate in any inquiry the network deemed appropriate.
"Most of us agree that the presumption of innocence is an important standard. We are taught early on that it's essential to see all sides, to give everyone a chance to explain and to check for exculpatory evidence that may have been missed," Ryan said.
"At a time when improper interactions between men and women, particularly in the workplace, are part of a national conversation, we must find a way to ensure that everyone -- the public, private and public institutions, accusers and alleged accused -- is given the opportunity for a swift and fair review."
Ryan insisted he will continue to promote change and listen, as well as give powerless voices a way to be heard through his television or radio platforms.
"We all have the right to be treated equally, regardless of our gender, race, faith, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or other status. We find ourselves in extraordinary times in American culture. We live with near constant change, disruption and public discourse," Ryan wrote.
"I realize the morals and values, the decency, we've perhaps taken for granted, individually and as citizens of the world, are in question. Worse, at risk. I do not take these things for granted."