Kelly Ripa introduces Ryan Seacrest as her new co-host for...

Kelly Ripa introduces Ryan Seacrest as her new co-host for "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in Manhattan on May 1, 2017. Credit: Disney-ABC Home Entertainment / Pawel Kaminski

On Thursday’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” Kelly Ripa expressed her support for Ryan Seacrest in the wake of sexual-misconduct allegations that her co-host has denied.

Without referring directly to the claims, Ripa, 47, told Seacrest that she “cannot wait to see you” Sunday at the Academy Awards, where she is conducting backstage interviews for their show and he is hosting E!’s “Live from the Red Carpet” preshow. “I’m very, very excited,” she added. “And I just want you to know that you are a privilege to work with and I adore you. And I’m speaking on behalf of all of us here. 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 all do. We all do.”

“You are happiness,” a grateful Seacrest, 43, responded, putting his arm around her shoulders and kissing her on the head.

You’re happiness,” Ripa replied, then jokingly mimicked a small child’s voice to add, “You’re happiness wrapped in chocolate. So there!”

On Monday, Variety published new details on the allegations, first put forth in November by Suzie Hardy, Seacrest’s stylist at E! from 2006 to 2013. She described years of unwanted sexual attention such as groping, grinding up against her and hugging her while in his underwear.

When the allegations first arose, Seacrest said in a statement, “If I made her feel anything but respected, I am truly sorry. I dispute these reckless allegations and I plan to cooperate with any corporate inquiries that may result.” On Feb. 1, E! announced that its investigation “found insufficient evidence to support the claims against Seacrest and therefore could not be substantiated.”

Seacrest reiterated his denial in a new statement Tuesday, saying in part, “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.”

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