Matt Lauer's ex-wife, Nancy Alspaugh, believes the journalist "needs to be given a second chance."
ET exclusively caught up with Alspaugh (who was married to the fired Today show host from 1981 to 1988), where she explained why she hopes Lauer gets to someday share his side of the story regarding his alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
Alspaugh admits that "while Matt has made mistakes," it's important for people to "never forget" the "wonderful, generous, kind" side of Lauer she sees -- "a loving father" to his three kids, Jack, 17, Romy, 14, and Thijs, 11, whom he shares with his estranged wife, Annette Roque.
"Matt has always been a support to his family and loved ones," Alspaugh explains. "He has done so much quietly to help others and to support important causes. He donated a tremendous amount to my autism charity, ACT Today. Many people don't know that through all his hard work, he has been able to give back and has made a difference in this world. Matt never did this for the thanks and would like nothing more than to continue to give back to society."
Alspaugh tells ET that Lauer's goal at the moment is to simply "be the best father he can be," while slowly and humbly returning to the public eye to "start again." According to Alspaugh, the Lauer she knows will be "back working in no time," and is already considering starting his own production company.
"He has cut himself off, but he wants to be part of the change in this world and he needs to be given a chance. It could be behind or in front of the camera," she says. "He will never stop recording life and sharing that with the world. He is a tremendous storyteller, a documentarian. He is equally good in front and behind the cameras, so I am sure this will work out for him."
"I don't think he's been given a chance to defend himself, and I hope one day soon he will be able to tell his story," she adds. "I'm sure it will be soon. He is beginning to feel like himself again, and people will finally hear his side of the story."
In addition to all the backlash he's received since his firing, Lauer is also in the process of finalizing his divorce with Roque. Alspaugh says it's been a really "rough time for Matt and Annette."
"Their very public divorce has been a different experience than what Matt and I faced," she explains. "In terms of ending our marriage, we took the easy route. We both just felt it was time to move on because of our careers. I think we could have made it work. I had too much pride. We have discussed this and agree, if we worked harder and we had put our marriage before our careers, we might have saved our marriage and had a future together."
"Our relationship is done, we had our time, and I know he loves me in a special way and I love him in a special way," she continues. "While we didn't last, Matt's mother and sister are family to me. Our children are about the same age, and a couple of years ago, around the time I lost my husband, we all got together and our kids got to know each other. There have never been any ill feelings."
As for what's next for Lauer from here? Alspaugh believes that it's time for him to "move on" to another chapter in his life.
"He will find love again, I am sure of it," she says. "I see him starting a new life and career. He is too talented not to have a great career. He made mistakes, but he can move on and upward."
Alspaugh also defended Lauer in an interview with ET last November, shortly after he was abruptly fired from the Today show. Watch below:
Reporting by Adriane Schwartz.
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