Oct 9, 2019 - Economy & Business

Ronan Farrow's new book accuses Matt Lauer of raping NBC colleague

Matt Lauer.

Matt Lauer. Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage

Investigative reporter Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill” alleges that former co-host of NBC's "Today" show Matt Lauer raped colleague Brooke Nevils at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Variety magazine.

Why it matters: NBC News fired Lauer in 2017 following a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace" filed by Nevils, but NBC executives emphasized that the incident hadn’t been criminal or an assault.

Details: Nevils, a former NBC News employee, said she was helping cover Olympic coverage in Sochi and went to a hotel bar with Lauer and another colleague.

  • Nevils said she had 6 shots of vodka and went to Lauer's hotel room twice — once to get her press pass and a second time on his invitation. Nevils told Farrow that Lauer forced himself on her.
  • “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” Nevils said, according to Variety.
  • Back in New York City, Nevils continued to have sexual encounters with Lauer. "This is what I blame myself most for," she told Farrow. "It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship."

Farrow writes that Nevils told colleagues and superiors at NBC and was transferred from NBC News to NBC’s Peacock Productions.

  • After she filed the complaint, Lauer was fired, but Nevils found out that Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, and Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, had said that the incident hadn’t been criminal or an assault.
  • And though Nevils was granted anonymity by human resources, NBC employees knew she filed the complaint, she said.
  • When Nevils decided to leave NBC, "the network proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment," Farrow writes.

What they're saying: NBC said in a statement to Farrow, "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."

  • In a statement to Variety, Lauer said: "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."
  • In 2017, Lauer released a statement after his firing saying: "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC."

Go deeper: NBC fires Matt Lauer for "inappropriate sexual behavior"

Editor’s note: NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, is a member of the Axios board. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.

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