Warning… This story contains explicit accusations that some readers may find upsetting.
A former junior colleague of Matt Lauer’s has accused him of raping her in his hotel room during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In her first public comments about the incident — told to journalist Ronan Farrow for his forthcoming book, Catch and Kill — Brooke Nevils said the former Today show host forced anal sex on her without her consent in his hotel room.
According to NBC News, it was Nevils’ complaint that ultimately led to Lauer’s firing in 2017 — one of the most prominent dismissals during the #MeToo movement. Until now, the accuser’s identity and her specific allegation of rape had not been publicly known.
Variety reported Nevils’ accusation Tuesday night, based on advance copies of Farrow’s book. By Wednesday morning, NBC News had released a statement calling Lauer’s conduct “appalling, horrific and reprehensible.”
Lauer responded to the rape allegation Wednesday by sending an open letter to NPR and other news outlets in which he denied wrongdoing and said his previous 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,” the former NBC star wrote in a note that spans more than two pages. “It’s outrageous.”
Overnight, troubling new allegations about former TODAY anchor Matt Lauer were revealed from journalist Ronan Farrow’s soon-to-be-released book “Catch and Kill.” @MorganRadford reports the details. pic.twitter.com/7ooO3oAJ5X
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 9, 2019
The current anchors of the Today show also addressed their predecessor’s alleged conduct in a somber segment on-air.
“This is shocking and appalling, and I honestly don’t know what to say about it,” Savannah Guthrie said, her voice quavering.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 9, 2019
In Farrow’s book, Nevils details the evening on which the alleged sexual assault took place. She says Lauer joined her and Meredith Vieira, Lauer’s former Today co-host, in a hotel bar in Sochi during the Olympics, for which NBC is the U.S. broadcaster and partner. Nevils says that later that night, after she had consumed many drinks, Lauer summoned her to his hotel room to retrieve her media credential.
She recounts him pushing her onto his hotel bed, asking if she liked anal sex, and despite her repeated refusals, raping her anally.
“It was non-consensual in that I was too drunk to consent,” she told Farrow in his book. “It was non-consensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Nevils broke her silence with a tweet Wednesday thanking supporters and survivors who shared their own stories with her. In a statement to USA TODAY, she said she asked NBC to thoroughly investigate her allegations and to give Lauer “the opportunity to defend himself.” She also said she provided “dates, times, evidence of communications and corroborating accounts” to back up her accusations and “both NBC and Farrow found me credible.”
She continued: “There’s the Matt Lauer that millions of Americans watched on TV every morning for two decades, and there is the Matt Lauer who this morning attempted to bully a former colleague into silence. His open letter was a case study in victim blaming. … I am not afraid of him now, regardless of his threats, bullying, and the shaming and predatory tactics I knew he would (and now has) tried to use against me.
“The shame in this story belongs to him,” Nevils concluded.