In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter this week, Ryan Seacrest details the fallout from the false #MeToo accusation leveled at him and pushes back against the abuse of the movement, stressing the importance of the "presumption of innocence."
Seacrest explains that in November he received a letter from a lawyer representing a stylist who accused him of mistreating her over a decade ago. The accusation, he notes, came amid the #MeToo "reckoning," a movement which he generally praises at length in his op-ed.
"This arrived during an unprecedented public reckoning by women in our industry and beyond, courageously coming forward to share their stories, many of them heartbreaking," writes Seacrest. "These women sought to bring attention to the systemic gender inequality that has occurred for decades. I was — and am — amazed at their bravery."
Having made sure to underscore his support for the movement, Seacrest then descscibes the "gut-wrenching" fallout from the accusation, which was ultimately determined to be unsubstantiated.
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching," says Seacrest. "I've always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion. 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. 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."
After his public denial and an investigation, an indepedent third party gave Seacrest notice that the woman's claims were "unsubstantiated and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on my part."
His case, he suggests, is an example of why we must continue to uphold the "presumption of innocence."
"Most of us agree that the presumption of innocence is an important standard," he writes. "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. 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."
Seacrest is not the first celebrity to push back against the abuses of the #MeToo movement. Among those who have called for calm among the flood of allegations are Liam Neeson, who described the movement as growing into "a bit of a witch hunt," Condoleezza Rice, who said we are in danger of "turn[ing] women into snowflakes," and Matt Damon, who has pushed back against conflating different types of allegations.