Matt Lauer Accused of Rape, Calls Allegation 'Categorically False'
By Paige Gawley
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Matt Lauer is denying a new allegation against him and claims the affair was consensual.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that, in Ronan Farrow's new book -- Catch and Kill, which is due out Oct. 15 -- former NBC producer Brooke Nevils, alleges that Lauer anally raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer has denied all allegations against him. See his full letter below.
Nevils' initial anonymous complaint about Lauer led, in part, to his Today firing in 2017. Nevils says in the book that, when she was in Sochi with Meredith Vieira for Olympics coverage, Lauer joined the pair for drinks at a hotel bar. Nevils, who had six shots of vodka, later went up to Lauer's hotel room twice, once to get a press pass and again because Lauer invited her, the book says.
On her second visit to Lauer's room, Nevils alleges in the book, that Lauer "pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex," Farrow writes. "She said that she declined several times."
Despite Nevils' alleged protestations, she claims in the book that Lauer "just did it" and "didn't use any lubricant," after which she says "she bled for days."
"The encounter was excruciatingly painful," Farrow writes. He says Nevils told him, "'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."
"It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," Nevils says in the book, according to Variety. "It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex."
Farrow's book states that the pair continued to have sexual encounters after the alleged rape, which she saw as "completely transactional" due to fears over Lauer's potential influence on her career.
In fall 2017, Nevils told Vieira about the alleged rape, who encouraged her to go to HR with a lawyer. She went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid seven figures, Farrow claims in his book.
Lauer responded to this new allegation in a lengthy letter, which was provided by his lawyer, in which he called the claim "categorically false" adding that it "ignores the facts, and defies common sense." Lauer's full letter is below.
"Today, nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made," Lauer wrote. "All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book."
In the letter, Lauer, who denied having influence over Nevils' career, said he "had an extramarital affair" with Nevils and called their Sochi encounter "mutual and completely consensual."
NBC has released a statement following the letter, stating, "Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague."
"This is shocking and appalling and I honestly don't even know what to say about it," Guthrie said. "... I know it wasn't easy for our colleague, Brooke, to come forward then. It's not easy now. We support her and any women who have come forward with claims."
"It's just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the Today show and, you know, it’s very, very, very difficult," she added. "... We have a commitment to keep you informed and we will continue to do that."
In Kotb's statement, she spoke about "having a weird moment that we were sitting here just like this two years ago," referencing Lauer's initial firing.
"Truth be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs just before to sort out what we were going to do," Kotb said. "... You feel like you’ve known someone for 12 years... you feel like you know them inside and out and all of a sudden, like, a door opens up and it’s a part of them you didn’t know."
"We don’t know all the facts in all of this but there are not allegations of an affair, they are allegations of a crime," she continued. "And I think that's shocking to all of us here who've sat here with Matt for many, many years. So I think we are gonna just consider to process this part of this horrific story and, as you said, you know, our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did to come forward. It's not easy at all."
In a separate segment, Al Roker said in regard to Lauer, "It really is a sad, sad day. These are horrific allegations claims and charges. We really feel bad for Brooke Nevils and it took a lot of courage to do that."
Here is Lauer's letter in full:
An Open Letter:
Over the past two years people have asked why I have not spoken out to defend myself more vigorously against some of the false and salacious allegations leveled at me. It is a fair question and the answer is deeply personal. Despite my desire to set the record straight and confront the individuals making false allegations, I wanted nothing less than to create more headlines my kids would read and a new gathering of photographers at the end of our driveway. So I decided to just stay quiet and work on repairing my relationship with the people I love. It has been the most important full-time job I have ever had.
But my silence has been a mistake.
Today, nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say "enough."
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.
This encounter, which she now falsely claims was an assault, was the beginning of our affair. It was the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months. After we returned to New York, we both communicated by text and by phone. We met for drinks, and she met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue our affair. Our meetings were arranged mutually. At no time, during or after her multiple visits to my apartment, did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there, or with our affair.
She also went out of her way to see me several times in my dressing room at work, and on one of those occasions we had a sexual encounter. It showed terrible judgment on my part, but it was completely mutual and consensual.
Brooke now says that she was terrified about the control I had over her career and felt pressure to agree to our encounters after Sochi. But at no time during our relationship did Brooke work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News. She worked for Meredith Vieira (who had not worked for the Today Show in several years) in a completely different part of the network, and I had no role in reviewing Brooke’s work.
I admit, I ended the affair poorly. I simply stopped communicating with her. Brooke continued to reach out. She admitted to NBC at the time she filed her complaint that she called me late at night while I was home with my family in an effort to rekindle the affair. But I attempted to go back to my life and pretend as if nothing had happened. I understand how that must have made her feel. However, being upset or having second thoughts does not give anyone the right to make false accusations years later about an affair in which they fully and willingly participated.
Between February 2014 and November 2017, Brooke and I saw each other more than a dozen times at professional gatherings, both large and small. Despite the fact that our affair was over, she always went out of her way to greet me warmly and engage in conversation. It was not until I was called in to speak to an NBC attorney on November 28, 2017 that I first learned Brooke had any complaint. I answered all questions openly and honestly for more than an hour. At that meeting I was never told that Brooke claimed our encounter in Sochi was non-consensual. Had I been, I would have defended myself immediately.
After Brooke filed her complaint in late 2017, her attorney publicly insisted she wanted to remain anonymous. He said she just wanted NBC to “do the right thing.” But within a year she was reportedly out trying to sell a book. And it appears that she also sought a monetary payment from NBC. Now she is making outrageous and false accusations to help sell a different book and stepping into the spotlight to cause as much damage as she can.
But Brooke’s story is filled with contradictions. Which Brooke is to be believed?
• She claims our first encounter was an assault, yet she actively participated in arranging future meetings and met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue the affair.
• She says I was the one pursuing the relationship, yet once it was over, she was the one calling me asking to rekindle it.
• She says she felt pressure to continue the affair because I had control over her career, but she did not work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News.
• She said she wanted to remain anonymous, yet she was reportedly trying to sell a book within year after filing her complaint.
• She said she just wanted NBC to "do the right thing," yet she sought a monetary payment, and two years after I was fired, she is stepping forward to do more damage.
There are people who fully understand the actual dynamic that existed between Brooke and me. They have reluctantly and quietly reached out in the past two years and shared what they know. They have accurately described Brooke and her role in this affair. I hope those people will understand that these allegations cross a serious line, and what they can share is a vital truth, even if it may seem unpopular.
Because of my infidelity, I have brought more pain and embarrassment to my family than most people can ever begin to understand. They’ve been through hell. I have asked for their forgiveness, taken responsibility for what I did do wrong, and accepted the consequences. But by not speaking out I also emboldened those who continue to do me harm with false stories.
One such story I should have confronted a long time ago is an example of why I believe my silence was a mistake. Despite numerous erroneous reports in the past, there was not a button in my office that could lock the door from the inside. There was no such locking mechanism. It didn’t exist. NBC confirmed this fact publicly following my termination.
It would have been impossible to confine anyone in my office, for any purpose, and I have never attempted to make anyone feel as if they were confined in my office. I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person. I had no desire to write this, but I had no choice. The details I have written about here open deep wounds for my family. But they also lead to the truth. For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations. They have avoided having to look a boyfriend, husband, or a child in the eye and say, "I cheated." They have done enormous damage in the process. And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence.
Meanwhile, a rep for Farrow told Deadline on Wednesday, "The stories about and comments from the brave women who spoke out for the book will be enough to refute anything he has to say."