Kelly Ripa Stands By Ryan Seacrest Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations: ‘You Are A Privilege To Work With’

The lead-up to the March 4 Oscars ceremony is proving difficult for Ryan Seacrest after reports that some stars would avoid him during his E! red carpet coverage. The network has publicly stood by Seacrest after former E! News stylist Suzie Hardy accused him of sexually harassing (grinding against and groping her) for years. Seacrest has denied the allegations and claimed that Hardy attempted to blackmail him, and E! told CNN that their “comprehensive” investigation cleared Seacrest of the accusations.

On Thursday morning’s Live With Kelly and Ryan episode, Kelly Ripa stood up for her co-host and expressed enthusiasm for watching him at the Oscars:

“I cannot wait to see you there … I am very excited. And I just want you to know, you are a privilege to work with and I adore you … I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very blessed to work with you each and every day.”

Ripa’s public declaration appears to be a response to an on-air joke — about Seacrest requiring help “to put your shoes back on” — that some viewed as a possible jab over the allegations. However, it seems that Ripa was simply making an impromptu quip, as one does, within an awkward segment where the two were showcasing standing desks.

Although Seacrest may also have an awkward time at the Oscars this weekend, his many gigs don’t appear to be in jeopardy. He’ll continue co-hosting Live! and will soon begin filming for the American Idol reboot. In addition, he’s still a producer of the Kardashian empire of E! shows with no signs of that job winding down anytime soon. Still, a Hardy co-worker backed up her allegations earlier this week on Today, so this matter won’t be dropped anytime soon.

(Via ABC, Fox News & CNN)