Ryan Seacrest, co-host of ABC’s Live! With Kelly & Ryan, stayed silent about the sexual-assault allegations facing him as he presented Wednesday’s show.
Instead, indulging in light banter with co-host Kelly Ripa about standing desks and the weather, he made it clear he intended to attend the Oscars for both E! on the red carpet and the morning-after Kelly and Ryan show on ABC.
In a Variety report, Seacrest's former personal stylist Suzie Hardy claimed Seacrest ground his penis against her clad in his underwear, groped her vagina, “and slapped her buttock so hard that it left a large welt still visible hours later.”
In a Tuesday statement, Seacrest denied the allegations, claiming Hardy had offered to withdraw her allegations if he paid her millions of dollars. An E! investigation into the allegations found “insufficient evidence” against Seacrest.
The star presenter claimed Variety hadn’t spoken to him in preparation of its report, but Variety refuted that claim, pointing out they had spoken to his reps, and asked to speak to him and been declined by his reps.
In response to Seacrest’s denial, Hardy told Variety: “He is not the victim, and I refuse to let him victimize me for telling the truth.”
On Wednesday, NBC reported that a former co-worker of Hardy, and a friend of hers, supported her claims.
An hour later on Wednesday’s Live! Seacrest and Ripa pointedly ignored the scandal-shadowing elephant in the room.
Seacrest complimented Ripa on her dress, hoped they would get the winter season without contracting the flu, and then worried about forecast bad weather preventing them from getting to the Oscars.
If there was a subliminal point to that, it was Seacrest telling the world that yes, he was going to the Oscars, despite a Page Six report claiming celebrities may be avoiding him on the red carpet.
Ripa mentioned his “bunker” downstairs, which Seacrest quickly clarified was a radio studio. An extended discussion of sitting versus standing at one's desk followed, with Seacrest revealing he has a hip flexor problem. He removed his shoes to make a joke about being so much smaller without them on.
One of the allegations against him is that Seacrest performed one act of assault while Hardy was tying his shoes.
It was a strange moment, therefore, that led Ripa to offer to put his shoes back on: “I’m a mom, I can do that,” she said.
No, Seacrest declined. He said he bought shoes that were too small—why remains a mystery—and then went to the front of their desk to show “Here’s what has to happen.”
He kicked his shoes violently back on. Ripa suggested a shoehorn might be a better idea so he didn't destroy the back of the shoes.
Was Seacrest hoping to demonstrate something about his real-life shoe sizing issues in regards the allegations against him? Or was it just another one of those weird daytime TV moments?
Whatever, the rest of the show included mulling a toilet paper shortage in Taiwan, an interview with Dennis Quaid, an interview with Olympic medal-winning skaters Alex and Maia Shibutani, a “Hollywood Countdown” Oscars game, and then a little dip into the viewers “inbox.” There was crickets on the allegations.
Seacrest’s modus operandi seems to be: stay silent, and hope all this goes away.