Woman accuses Matt Lauer of rape; former anchor denies claim
NEW YORK — A woman who worked at NBC News claimed that former anchor Matt Lauer raped her at a hotel while on assignment for the Sochi Olympics, an encounter the former “Today” show host claimed was consensual.
The claim outlined by Brooke Nevils in Ronan Farrow’s book, “Catch and Kill,” puts a name and details behind the event that led to Lauer’s firing by NBC in 2017. It also provoked the first public response from Lauer, who said in a defiant and graphic letter made public by his lawyer that “my silence was a mistake.”
Variety first reported Nevils’ charges after obtaining a copy of Farrow’s book. The Associated Press typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, unless they step forward publicly as Nevils has done.
Nevils, who was working for Meredith Vieira in Sochi, met her for drinks one night and Lauer joined them. Nevils said she had six shots of vodka and wound up going to Lauer’s room.
She said that Lauer pushed her onto a bed and asked if she liked anal sex. Nevils said she declined several times, but then Lauer “just did it.” She described the encounter as “excruciatingly painful.”
“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.”
In his letter, Lauer admitted to his extramarital affair with Nevils. He said on that night in Sochi that they consensually performed a variety of sexual acts.
“She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner,” he wrote. “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.”
Lauer’s defense of his behavior extends beyond his relationship with Nevils. He said he has “never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.”
He also acknowledges other extramarital encounters, and criticized the women involved for having “abandoned shared responsibility” for the affairs to shield themselves from blame behind false allegations.
“They have avoided having to look at a boyfriend, a husband or a child in the eye and say, ‘I cheated,’” Lauer said. “And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence.”
Lauer said the night in Sochi was the first of several sexual encounters he had with Nevils over several months, including one in his dressing room at NBC, which “showed terrible judgment on my part.”
Nevils’ lawyer did not immediately return a message for comment.
Eleanor McManus, who co-founded the group Press Forward to support victims of sexual abuse in the news industry, said Lauer’s letter was “unbelievable.”