Matt Lauer accused of raping NBC colleague, Ronan Farrow book alleges
An upcoming book from journalist Ronan Farrow includes allegations that former “Today” host Matt Lauer raped an NBC colleague while at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Variety reported the accusations after reading an advanced copy of “Catch and Kill,” which is not scheduled to hit bookstores until Oct. 15. NBC News has not seen a copy of the book.
Lauer, the long-running face of the "Today" show, was fired by NBC News on Nov. 29, 2017, after a female colleague made a detailed complaint accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The accusation also noted that the alleged behavior continued in the workplace after the Olympics.
In the book, Farrow writes that the woman who made the complaint against the anchor said that Lauer anally raped her in a hotel room while in Russia, according to Variety.
NBC News said in a statement issued after the Variety report, "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."
The book identifies the woman as former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, who NBC had previously not named at her request.
She told Farrow that while in Sochi, she and former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira were having drinks at a hotel bar when they ran into Lauer, who joined them.
The book details Nevils' account of going to Lauer’s hotel room two times — once to retrieve her press credential, which she said Lauer had taken as a joke, and a second time after he invited her.
Nevils alleges Lauer pushed her against the door and kissed her, before forcing her on the bed and "flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex," the book says. Nevils reportedly "said that she declined several times," according to Variety.
Nevils "was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he 'just did it,'" and it was not consensual, the book reportedly says. Lauer then asked Nevils if she liked it and she told him yes, the booked alleges.
"It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," Nevils told Farrow, according to Variety. "It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex."
Nevils also told Farrow that she later had other sexual encounters with Lauer. Sources close to Lauer said she sometimes initiated contact, Farrow wrote.
She said she blames herself for those encounters and was terrified of the control Lauer had over her career, according to Variety.
Lauer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In April 2018, he told the Washington Post:
"I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false."
Vieira and Nevils also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The book also reportedly said Nevils went to NBCUniversal human resources with a lawyer at Vieira’s urging in 2017. Lauer was fired the next day.
The book also says that Nevils went on medical leave in 2018 before being paid seven figures and that NBC "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," Variety reported.
In a memo to staff in April 2018, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said the company's "highest priority" was to "ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected.”
"We are absolutely committed to making this a reality — there can be no exception," he added.
On the "Today" show Wednesday, hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb — who worked with Lauer for many years on the show — discussing their responses to the news.
"We owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment. This is shocking and appalling, and I honestly don't even know what to say about it," Guthrie said.
"It's very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the 'Today' Show," Guthrie added. "It's very, very, very difficult."
Kotb also expressed surprise at the allegations.
"There are not allegations of an affair. There are allegations of a crime," Kotb said. "And I think that's shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years."
Farrow, who previously worked for NBC News, was among the first journalists to report sexual harassment and misconduct claims against Harvey Weinstein. Farrow started his reporting on Weinstein while at NBC News, and won a Pulitzer for his work on the allegations against powerful men and the attempts to silence survivors that appeared in The New Yorker.
NBC News said in an internal report that Farrow's draft story on Weinstein contained misstatements and wasn't ready for broadcast because "there was not a single victim … willing to be identified." The NBC report added that Farrow's New Yorker story was published nearly two months after he left NBC News, and five days after The New York Times broke the Weinstein story.