NBC News has addressed a stunning new allegation in journalist Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book that former Today anchor Matt Lauer allegedly raped a co-worker while on assignment at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Variety published excerpts from “Catch and Kill” Wednesday after obtaining an advance copy of the book. In it, former NBC producer Brooke Nevils — whose complaint about Lauer led to his firing in 2017 — alleged that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while they were in Russia.
Nevils told Farrow that she was having drinks at a hotel bar with Meredith Vieira when they ran into Lauer and he joined them.
The former producer said Lauer took her press credential as a joke, and she went to his hotel room two times — once to retrieve her credential, and a second time after he invited her.
Nevils alleged Lauer kissed her, pushed her onto the bed and asked if she liked anal sex, adding that she declined.
“It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex,” Nevils is reported to have told Farrow. She went on to say she blames herself and was terrified of Lauer because he wielded so much power at NBC.
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Farrow writes in the book: “Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. ‘It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?’ She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow.” Lauer then asked her if she liked it. She tells him yes. She claims that ‘she bled for days.'”
The allegation drew strong reactions Wednesday from NBC and Lauer’s former colleagues on the Today show.
“Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible,” NBC News said in a statement posted online. “That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
Today anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb also addressed the allegations on air.
“I honestly don’t even know what to say about it. I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it’s not easy now and we support her,” Guthrie said. “It’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult.”
“We don’t know all the facts in all of this, but they are not allegations of an affair, but they are allegations of a crime,” added an emotional Kotb. “I think that’s shocking to all of us here, who’ve sat with Matt for many, many years.”
.@savannahguthrie and @hodakotb respond to new allegations about Matt Lauer pic.twitter.com/HsngSZd1NA
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 9, 2019
Lauer pushed back in an open letter issued to several media outlets, and said the initial encounter with Nevils was consensual.
“In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault,” the former Today anchor wrote. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.”
Lauer offered his version, in graphic detail, of what happened when Nevils came to his hotel room “very late one night” in Sochi.
“We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex,” he said.
Lauer said his first encounter with Nevils was followed by a months-long relationship between the two.
“This encounter, which she now falsely claims was an assault, was the beginning of our affair,” Lauer said. “It was the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months.”
“Catch and Kill” will be released on Oct. 15.