Kelly Ripa defends Ryan Seacrest as a 'privilege to work with' on 'Live'

Kelly Ripa has come out in support of her Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host Ryan Seacrest amid his ongoing sexual misconduct scandal. She said on today’s show that Seacrest is a “professional” and a “privilege to work with.”

While Ripa, a South Jersey native, did not address the allegations directly, she also added that she is excited to see Seacrest at the Academy Awards this weekend, where he will helm red carpet coverage for E! Stars, such as Jennifer Lawrence, have said that they may not speak to Seacrest during the event due to the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

“I cannot wait to see you there,” Ripa said on Live today. “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 a professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very blessed to work with you each and every day.”

Former stylist Suzie Hardy recently accused Seacrest of sexual harassment and assault, saying that the TV host regularly behaved improperly toward her from 2007 to 2013, when she was employed at E! Hardy told Variety this week that Seacrest allegedly pushed her head near to his crotch at least once when she was tying his shoes, grabbed her crotch multiple times, and hugged her while wearing only underwear.

Hardy previously made her accusations anonymously in November, which prompted an investigation into the matter by E! Seacrest denied the allegations, and the network issued a statement indicating that they found “no sufficient evidence” to substantiate the claims.

Seacrest has also denied the allegations this time around, issuing a statement to People accusing Hardy of blackmail.

“This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars. I refused,” he said. “I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don’t take my opportunities for granted.”

Hardy’s attorney, Howard E. King, told people that Seacrest’s statement was an “attempt to smear the victim and divert attention from her very specific and supportable claims.”

Ripa’s vocal support for Seacrest comes just a day after a perceived jab at her co-host. On Wednesday’s show, Ripa and Seacrest had been going through a list of topics, prompting both to stand up from their desk. Seacrest had his shoes off, which Ripa noticed.

“Sweetie, do you want me to put your shoes back on for you?” Ripa asked, which some took as a reference to Hardy’s allegations.

“You don’t mind, do you?” Seacrest said.