The former Today show production assistant released a lengthy statement on Thursday, just one day after Lauer was accused of rape by former NBC producer Brooke Nevils. Variety reports that in Ronan Farrow's new book, Catch and Kill, Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer released his own open letter (which can be read in full here) on Wednesday, in which he denied all allegations against him, calling his and Nevils' encounter at the Sochi Olympics "mutual and completely consensual."
"I was deeply shocked and saddened by Matt Lauer's letter yesterday in response to Brooke's allegations of sexual assault," Zinone shared in her statement. "The seeming lack of contrition, misstatements, and threatening tone is an attempt to manipulate and control the narrative for his own gain. He is determined to undermine and tarnish the reputation of the brave women who courageously come forward. This is precisely why so many don't."
"This paragraph is particularly triggering for me and so many others," she added, quoting the following text from Lauer's open letter:
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.
"Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person," Zinone continued. "I had no desire to come out of the shadows from the pain his abuse of power inflicted on me in NBC's newsroom. I never had, nor do I have, anything to gain in telling my truth. In fact, I have everything to lose, but when I realized I was not alone, I was willing to lift the veil on that time to validate the accusations of others. I felt it was the right thing to do."
Read the rest of her statement below:
I already lived with reporters from the National Enquirer hounding me over the years; I was not going to give them that power again. No one wants to be known for these issues, but after this story broke in Nov 2017, I decided I would no longer provide him the safety of my 17 years of silence, no matter the personal cost (which has been great, evidenced by every comment section under stories of my experience with him). Please do not confuse my willingness to speak up, however, with fearlessness. I'm petrified and humiliated that the world knows the intimate details of this experience.
That said, here are the facts: I was a single 24-year-old intern-turned-production assistant; he was a married 42-year-old man, the most powerful and successful man at NBC, arguably in all of journalism. The trajectory of my life and career changed drastically as a result of this experience. I have never given false allegations when it comes to this story. To suggest I haven't been honest is a deflection, meant to ruin my credibility and reputation. I did look my (now) husband in the eyes and tell him about my participation in what happened all those years ago, and they have been horrible, guilt-ridden conversations. My children had to find out about it when they Googled my name and found words like “slut” and “whore” instead of the philanthropy and military service I proudly pursued in 2002 in addition to my journalism career. Mr. Lauer's attempts to slut-shame and rewrite history will not work. It is troubling he has no understanding of, or empathy for, the pain he has inflicted with his brazen and predatory abuse of power on young, vulnerable women who had no voice. But now we do. I have always admitted my part in this - I deeply wish I had been stronger - but he knows it should not have happened. It was wrong - full stop. It cost him his career; his reputation. He will live with that forever. To be sure, so will we. Journalists are tasked with exposing this behavior, not perpetuating it. Power corrupts and he is not immune.
I am thankful for the opportunity to move the conversation forward and uncover the truth with assistance from courageous journalists like Ronan Farrow. We rise above our individual experiences and focus on the need to create systemic change through education, training, dialogue and helping the most vulnerable, so that what I experienced, no one will ever have to again.
As ET previously reported, Zinone came forward in 2017, alleging that she had a consensual, one-month affair with Lauer in 2000. "Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic," she said an interview with Variety at the time. "He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful -- and those were the production assistants and the interns."
Later speaking with ET, Zinone said she hoped Lauer would use this time "to consider how he abused his power to prey on the vulnerable, and the effect it has on us as professionals, as young women and as people."
"If he embarks on a comeback, and is interested in a meaningful conversation about how his actions affected me, I welcome the discussion," she added. "In the meantime, I and others are busy working hard to assure these abuses of power no longer happen."
As for Nevils, her initial anonymous complaint about Lauer led, in part, to his Today firing in 2017, which Lauer spoke about in his latest statement on Wednesday.
"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 said. "All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book."
NBC also released a statement on Wednesday following the release of Lauer's letter, which stated, "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."