Kelly Ripa is standing up for her “Live with Kelly and Ryan” co-host and friend Ryan Seacrest amid sexual harassment allegations against him.
On Thursday’s show, Ripa took a serious tone when she addressed Seacrest early on the show.
“I just want you to know you are a privilege to work with, and I adore you, and I am speaking on behalf of all of us here,” she said. “I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very lucky to work with you each and every day. And we love you.”
Seacrest replied, hugging her, “You are happiness.”
“You are happiness wrapped in chocolate,” Ripa said before the two kicked off the show.
Ripa wasn’t the only colleague to come forward in Seacrest’s defense this week. Seacrest’s stylist and makeup artist Jayson Stacy opened up to PEOPLE about working the TV host for 13 years.
“There has never been any ill words spoken to me about him,” he said. “He’s never been mean. With women, there’s so many females that work with us. … I never once heard anyone say that he’s done anything to make them feel uncomfortable — that he’s been mean to them, that they wanted to leave their job because of him.”
Earlier this week, Seacrest’s accuser, Suzie Hardy, claimed that Seacrest was inappropriate with her on more than one occasion, including a time she claims he threw her on a bed in a hotel room and rubbed his erection on her body.
Seacrest denied the allegations in another statement with E! News on Tuesday.
“Much has been said about the #MeToo and Times Up movement(s) and the importance of providing women and men with the opportunity to share their stories of workplace misconduct, in an effort to change our culture and the systemic inequalities that exist,” he said, in part.. “I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories.”
Seacrest continued, “This person who has accused me of horrible things tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don’t take my opportunities for granted.” He concluded, “I don’t want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth, but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing and put the matter to rest.”