At least three women have accused Matt Lauer of sexual harassment, according to a Varietyreport published on Wednesday.
The three women accusing Lauer of sexual harassment have asked not to be named, though Variety says it has conducted "dozens" of interviews with current and former NBC staffers over a two-month investigation into Lauer's alleged behavior. On Wednesday morning, Lauer's Today show co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, made the stunning announcement that the 59-year-old journalist was fired from the popular morning show, citing "inappropriate workplace behavior.”
Lauer did not comment on the allegations or his recent termination until Thursday morning at the top of the Today show.
Variety reports that Lauer was known by staff for allegedly continuously making lewd comments verbally or over text message, and that he was "fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks." According to two women who claim Lauer sexually harassed them, his office was also in a secluded area, and he had a button under his desk that let him lock his door without having to get up -- giving Lauer the privacy to allegedly sexually harass female employees.
Lauer's alleged behavior includes giving a colleague a sex toy as a present, with a note about how he wanted to use it on her. Another woman alleges he called her to his office and then showed her his penis, and then reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act when she declined.
“There were a lot of consensual relationships, but that’s still a problem because of the power he held,” a former producer claims to Variety. “He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain.”
Variety reports that Lauer's alleged harassment continued when he traveled for work, specifically, that he would allegedly invite female employees to his hotel room late at night while covering the Olympics. On Wednesday, a source at NBC told ET that Lauer was fired from the Today show after a woman came forward accusing him of "inappropriate sexual behavior" throughout 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Several women claim to Variety that they complained to NBC executives about Lauer’s alleged harassment, but were ignored.
In response, an NBC News spokesperson tells ET, "We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct."
According to a New York Times article also published on Wednesday, NBC has now received two new complaints related to Lauer. According to the report, one complaint involves a former employee who claims Lauer called her to his office in 2001, and then had sex with her.
The woman, who declined to have her name used, tells the Times that she felt "helpless" and didn't want to lose her job. She also says she didn't report the alleged encounter at the time because she felt ashamed.
NBC News chairman Andy Lack broke the news of Lauer's firing to the NBC team in a letter on Wednesday, writing that Lauer had been accused by a female colleague of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
"While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with a reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," Lack wrote.
Another source told ET on Wednesday that Lack told employees during an editorial call that Lauer was remorseful and understood their decision to fire him. The source added that the allegations that the accuser brought forward are very credible, which is why NBC decided to take action.
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