A former NBC News employee alleges she was anally raped by former Today show anchor Matt Lauer in a hotel room during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to an account in a new book by journalist Ronan Farrow.
Brooke Nevils’ allegations led to Lauer’s ouster from the news network, but their details were previously unknown to the public. In addition to describing the alleged rape, Farrow’s book, Catch and Kill, contradicts NBC’s statement that it was not aware of any allegations against Lauer until Nevils and her lawyer complained to the company’s human resources department in November of 2017.
Nevils said she told many people within NBC, including multiple superiors, about the alleged rape. “This was no secret,” Farrow writes.
“Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time,” NBC News said in a statement today. “That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
But Farrow describes a much different timeline, in which more than three years elapsed before the company took action.
Nevils, who worked with Lauer’s former Today co-host Meredith Vieira, says that Lauer invited her back to his Sochi hotel room after she had six shots of vodka at a hotel bar. She alleges that Lauer forced her to have anal sex with him despite her verbally declining several times. “Lauer, she said, didn’t use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. ‘It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, Is this normal?’ She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow,” Farrow writes in his book.
Lauer has denied the allegation. In a lengthy letter provided to Variety, Lauer says what Nevils recounted to Farrow “is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter.” He admits to having an extramarital affair with Nevils, but claims it was completely consensual. “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.”
Lauer says he continued to have a consensual affair with Nevils for months after the alleged incident in Sochi. He claims that at no time did she ever express discomfort with their relationship.
Catch and Kill describes a company that went to great lengths to keep all accusations against Lauer from public view. Another accuser, a former Today employee, told Farrow that she detailed her 2010 incident with Lauer to then Today co-host Ann Curry, who in turn informed two “senior executives.” When the woman left NBC, the company asked her to sign a “release of rights” that prevented her from filing a legal claim, according to Farrow.
In total, Catch and Kill details seven different allegations of sexual misconduct against Lauer. According to the Hollywood Reporter, which has read the full version of Catch and Kill (to be published Oct. 15), Farrow mentions how NBC allegedly sought to stymie reporting into the allegations even after they were made public, including “employing a Wikipedia whitewasher” to remove references to NBC News president Noah Oppenheim and hiring an outside reporter “who made investigative calls” to women who worked with Lauer. “One woman who had received those calls texted Farrow: ‘Coverup,'” the Hollywood Reporter reveals.
“There are several striking examples of the way in which that routine corporate practice of covering up and paying out to get rid of allegations of misconduct rather than addressing them,” Farrow writes. “That is not an appropriate corporate practice when you are a news outlet.”