Former Today show host Matt Lauer has been accused of raping a colleague in 2014. According to a report published in Variety, investigative reporter Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill outlines the allegations that led to his 2017 firing from the Today show.
Brooke Nevils, a former NBC News employee who had previously sought to keep her identity anonymous, told Farrow that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Nevils was on the trip to work with former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira.
Multiple women have accused Lauer of sexual misconduct, including encounters in 2000, 2001, and 2007. He allegedly gave a colleague a sex toy and showed a different colleague his penis, reprimanding her for not wanting to engage in a sexual encounter. He even had a button in his office that allowed him to close the door while sitting at his desk.
Nevils told Farrow that the encounter in Sochi “was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.” She also said that she was too drunk to be able to consent.
Farrow wrote that Lauer apparently pushed Nevils onto the bed, “flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex.” Nevils “said that she declined several times,” he wrote.
According to the account, as she was in the middle of telling him again that she did not want to have anal sex, Lauer raped her.
“It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?” she told Farrow. Afterward, she said, she “bled for days.”
Farrow wrote that after Nevils was raped, “she told colleagues and superiors at NBC” about the encounter.
Then, in 2017, Nevils met with NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer to tell them about the alleged rape. Lauer was fired, but “Nevils’s work life became torture,” Farrow wrote. “She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her.”
NBC did, however, attempt to explain the creepy button in 2018. An internal investigation found that, “according to the NBCUniversal facilities team, the button is a commonly available feature in executive offices in multiple NBCUniversal facilities to provide an efficient way to close the door without getting up from the desk.” So, yeah. I definitely feel better knowing that Lauer wasn’t the only guy who had one.
According to the Variety report, Nevils apparently learned that Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, “were emphasizing that the incident hadn’t been ‘criminal’ or an ‘assault.’” Lack allegedly also said internally that the incident that led to Lauer’s firing had happened in Sochi, essentially outing her. She went on medical leave in 2018.
Lauer’s representative did not respond to a request for comment from Variety, and NBC News declined to comment. Lauer has commented on accusations against him in the past. When sexual misconduct allegations were first revealed in 2017, Lauer said that some of the specifics were untrue, but that there was “enough” truth in the stories for him to apologize. He later said that “any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.”
Today itself ran a lengthy segment on the claims on Wednesday morning. Co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, who worked with Lauer for years, were visibly shaken.
“This is shocking and appalling and I honestly don’t even know what to say about it,” Guthrie said.
“You feel like you’ve known someone...and then all of a sudden a door opens up and there’s a part of them you didn’t know...they’re not allegations of an affair. They’re allegations of a crime,” Kotb said.
Update, 10:32 a.m. ET: Lauer issued a lengthy statement to Variety denying the rape allegation. From the statement:
In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.
I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.
The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. The only concern she expressed was that someone might see her leaving my room. She embraced me at the door as she left.