- Disgraced former “Today” show host Matt Lauer sent Insider an open letter on Wednesday addressing the rape allegations made by NBC employee Brooke Nevils.
- Nevils told journalist Ronan Farrow that Lauer raped her in his hotel room while they were covering the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
- Lauer said in the letter that the sexual encounter between him and Nevils was consensual. Insider has not independently verified Lauer’s claims.
- Lauer was fired in 2017 after NBC said an employee had accused him of “innaprostriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” The employee, Nevils, spoke out for the first time in Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill.”
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Disgraced former “Today” show host Matt Lauer issued an open letter on Wednesday addressing the rape allegations made against him by NBC employee Brooke Nevils.
Nevils spoke out publicly for the first time in an excerpt from Ronan Farrow’s book “Catch and Kill,” published in Variety on Tuesday. She said Lauer raped her in his hotel room while they were covering the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Nevils alleged that Lauer pushed her against a wall and kissed her, before pushing her on the bed and raping her. She said she was drunk when she visited Lauer’s hotel room.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she told Farrow. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Nevels said she and Lauer had more sexual encounters in New York, and she felt pressured to continue it because she was terrified about the control he had over her and her career.
Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, told Insider that abusers often use power to try to control their victims.
“Whenever you have these additional factors, whether that’s money, the ability to impact employability in the long run, the ability to attain your educational goals, any of those things, it’s just more weight on the side of the abuser. It’s additional tools that they get to use to get you to do what they want you to do,” she said.
Houser told Insider that victims often continue relationships or maintain contact with their abusers as a way to control the narrative.
“Part of it is because you don’t want to believe this terrible thing just happened to you. You also are trying to rationalize it in a way that makes sense,” Houser said.
She added: “I think that we see this in lots of other cases. Maintaining contact came up in the Bill Cosby case, it happens on college campuses. People do this to try to make sense of what happened to them, and try to ensure there’s not ongoing risk of reputation damage.”
Lauer said in the letter sent to Insider that the sexual encounter between him and Nevils was consensual.
Insider has not independently verified Lauer’s claims. Farrow’s book went through a vigorous fact-checking process, and multiple women have accused Lauer of inappropriate sexual conduct.
Lauer was fired in 2017 after NBC said an employee – now identified as Nevils – had accused him of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
After Lauer was fired from NBC in 2017, multiple news outlets published stories of other allegations of sexual misconduct, including making lewd comments to female colleagues, exposing himself, and using a security device to close women in his office with him.
NBC issued a statement about the allegations, saying: “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.”
Read Matt Lauer’s letter below:
An Open Letter:
Over the past two years people have asked why I have not spoken out to defend myself more vigorously against some of the false and salacious allegations leveled at me. It is a fair question and the answer is deeply personal. Despite my desire to set the record straight and confront the individuals making false allegations, I wanted nothing less than to create more headlines my kids would read and a new gathering of photographers at the end of our driveway. So I decided to just stay quiet and work on repairing my relationship with the people I love. It has been the most important full-time job I have ever had.
But my 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. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say “enough.”
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.
I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.
The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. The only concern she expressed was that someone might see her leaving my room. She embraced me at the door as she left.
This encounter, which she now falsely claims was an assault, was the beginning of our affair. It was the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months. After we returned to New York, we both communicated by text and by phone. We met for drinks, and she met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue our affair. Our meetings were arranged mutually. At no time, during or after her multiple visits to my apartment, did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there, or with our affair.
She also went out of her way to see me several times in my dressing room at work, and on one of those occasions we had a sexual encounter. It showed terrible judgment on my part, but it was completely mutual and consensual.
Brooke now says that she was terrified about the control I had over her career and felt pressure to agree to our encounters after Sochi. But at no time during our relationship did Brooke work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News. She worked for Meredith Vieira (who had not worked for the Today Show in several years) in a completely different part of the network, and I had no role in reviewing Brooke’s work. I admit, I ended the affair poorly. I simply stopped communicating with her. Brooke continued to reach out. She admitted to NBC at the time she filed her complaint that she called me late at night while I was home with my family in an effort to rekindle the affair. But I attempted to go back to my life and pretend as if nothing had happened. I understand how that must have made her feel. However, being upset or having second thoughts does not give anyone the right to make false accusations years later about an affair in which they fully and willingly participated.
Between February 2014 and November 2017, Brooke and I saw each other more than a dozen times at professional gatherings, both large and small. Despite the fact that our affair was over, she always went out of her way to greet me warmly and engage in conversation. It was not until I was called in to speak to an NBC attorney on November 28, 2017 that I first learned Brooke had any complaint. I answered all questions openly and honestly for more than an hour. At that meeting I was never told that Brooke claimed our encounter in Sochi was non-consensual. Had I been, I would have defended myself immediately.
After Brooke filed her complaint in late 2017, her attorney publicly insisted she wanted to remain anonymous. He said she just wanted NBC to “do the right thing.” But within a year she was reportedly out trying to sell a book. And it appears that she also sought a monetary payment from NBC. Now she is making outrageous and false accusations to help sell a different book and stepping into the spotlight to cause as much damage as she can.
But Brooke’s story is filled with contradictions. Which Brooke is to be believed?
- She claims our first encounter was an assault, yet she actively participated in arranging future meetings and met me at my apartment on multiple occasions to continue the affair.
- She says I was the one pursuing the relationship, yet once it was over, she was the one calling me asking to rekindle it.
- She says she felt pressure to continue the affair because I had control over her career, but she did not work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News.
- She said she wanted to remain anonymous, yet she was reportedly trying to sell a book within year after filing her complaint.
- She said she just wanted NBC to “do the right thing,” yet she sought a monetary payment, and two years after I was fired, she is stepping forward to do more damage.
There are people who fully understand the actual dynamic that existed between Brooke and me. They have reluctantly and quietly reached out in the past two years and shared what they know. They have accurately described Brooke and her role in this affair. I hope those people will understand that these allegations cross a serious line, and what they can share is a vital truth, even if it may seem unpopular.
Because of my infidelity, I have brought more pain and embarrassment to my family than most people can ever begin to understand. They’ve been through hell. I have asked for their forgiveness, taken responsibility for what I did do wrong, and accepted the consequences. But by not speaking out I also emboldened those who continue to do me harm with false stories.
One such story I should have confronted a long time ago is an example of why I believe my silence was a mistake. Despite numerous erroneous reports in the past, there was not a button in my office that could lock the door from the inside. There was no such locking mechanism. It didn’t exist. NBC confirmed this fact publicly following my termination.
It would have been impossible to confine anyone in my office, for any purpose, and I have never attempted to make anyone feel as if they were confined in my office. I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.
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.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org/online and receive confidential support.
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