Brooke Nevils is an American television producer and former NBC News employee who alleges that Matt Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Variety obtained a copy of Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill,” in which Farrow interviews the 35-year-old Nevils, who describes the incident in detail. Nevils’ complaint was the catalyst to Lauer being fired as co-anchor of the “Today” show in 2017. NBC had kept her identity and the details of the allegations private until now.
In Sochi, Nevils was tasked with working with former “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who’d been brought back to the show to do Olympics coverage. In her account, one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who’d had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer’s hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils, Farrow writes, “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.”
Once she was back in his hotel room, “Lauer — who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers — pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, ‘flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,’ Farrow writes. ‘She said that she declined several times.'”
According to Farrow’s book, she allegedly “was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he “just did it,” Farrow adds, “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.”
When Lauer asked if she liked it, she told him yes, according to Farrow’s book. She then tells Farrow that “she bled for days,” following the incident.
Nevils grew up in Missouri and graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a double major in political science and the Writing Seminars. She was a TV producer at NBC working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza until 2018 when she went on “medical leave” after leaving NBC and allegedly receiving a seven-figure payout from them, according to Variety’s reporting.
She’s billed as a producer on several high-profile shows for NBC including “Headliners”, “90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?”, and “Royal Wedding Watch.”
Lauer wrote a lengthy open letter denying any wrongdoing and saying that everything with Nevils was part of a consensual affair.
“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,” Lauer wrote. “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.”
Lauer’s full letter can be read here.
Nevils responded in a statement published by NBC News later on October 9, saying, “”There’s the Matt Lauer that millions of Americans watched on TV every morning for two decades, and there is the Matt Lauer who this morning attempted to bully a former colleague into silence,” she said, in part. “His open letter was a case study in victim blaming… I am not afraid of him now, regardless of his threats, bullying, and the shaming and predatory tactics I knew he would (and now has) tried to use against me.”
NBC News issued a statement 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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. In Farrow’s Book, Nevils Said She Continued Her Relationship With Lauer Following the Attack but Said it Was ‘Completely Transactional’
After the incident at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Nevils told Ronan Farrow that she continued her relationship with Lauer. “Sources close to Lauer emphasized that she sometimes initiated contact,” Farrow writes, according to Variety. “What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I’d spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her.”
“This is what I blame myself most for,” Nevils tells Farrow in an interview “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
Nevils says in Farrow’s book that she continued her relationship with Lauer because she was intimidated by the power he held over her career. She also claims she told “like a million people” about her encounter with Lauer including her colleagues and superiors at NBC.
Nothing was done about the incident until 2017 when the “#metoo movement” led her “Today” show colleagues to ask about Lauer and urge her to report the incident to NBC.
2. After Reporting Her Complaint, Nevils Says That Her Work Life Became ‘Torture’
After colleagues urged her to report the 2014 incident, she went to NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer, Farrow’s book reports. Her report caused NBC Universal to fire Lauer. In Farrow’s book, Nevils alleges that President of NBC News Noah Oppenheim, and Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC Andrew Lack “were emphasizing that the incident hadn’t been ‘criminal’ or an ‘assault’”. She claims that when she heard this she “threw up”.
She was promised anonymity by NBC Universal but the company said internally that the incident happened at the Sochi Olympics. This detail limited the number of possible complainants and her colleagues eventually figured out it was her.
“Nevils’ work life became torture,” Farrow writes. “She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her.”
Nevils says she never wanted money but NBC still paid her “seven figures” after she went on medical leave in 2018.
“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,” according to Farrow.
On October 9, after Variety’s article on Farrow’s book was posted, NBC “Today” show hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie addressed the news on the show formerly hosted by Lauer.
“I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment,” Guthrie said. “This is shocking and appalling. I honestly don’t even know what to say about it. I want to say I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it’s not easy now and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. And it’s just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the Today show. It’s very, very, very difficult.”
Kotb added, “We don’t know all the facts on all of this, but there are not allegations of an affair, there are allegations of a crime. I think that’s shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. So I think we’re going to just sort of continue to process this part of this horrific story and as you said, our thoughts are with Brooke. It’s not easy what she did, to come forward. It’s not easy at all.”
NBC News chairman Andy Lack issued a statement saying, “Our highest priority is 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.”
Farrow tweeted, “Nevils did an incredibly brave thing coming forward the way she did. She upended her life to ensure accountability and protect others.”
Ann Curry also showed Nevils support, tweeting, “Brooke Nevils is a credible young woman of good character. She came to NBC News an eager and guileless 20-something, brimming with talent.
I believe she is telling the truth. And that breaks my heart.
Nevils took to Twitter on October 9 to thank those who have supported her.
“I want to thank the many survivors who shared their stories with me today and offered their support. It takes courage, and I am truly grateful,” Nevils wrote.
3. She Started Her Career as a Page at NBC, Where She Once Helped Robert De Niro Find His Wallet
Brooke Nevils is originally from Chesterfield, Missouri, and graduated from Parkway West High School in 2003. After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 2007, Nevils moved to New York City and got a job as a page for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. She started out greeting guests and getting them to the set in time for their interviews.
In an interview with Arts & Sciences Magazine, Nevils says she had injured her leg in a water skiing accident right before starting and was forced to work injured her first week on the job.
“My first week at The Today Show, I was taking Vicodin for my leg and getting up at 3:30 a.m. to get to work.” She told Arts & Sciences, “It was certainly the last place in the world I saw myself getting a job. But it worked out.”
One of the first fires she had to put out was finding actor Robert De Niro’s wallet after he lost it in a New York City cab. Shortly after Robert De Niro arrived at the studio, his manager told Nevils he had left his wallet in their cab
“I can’t leave Bobby,” De Niro’s manager told her. “You gotta get it back for me.” Nevils eventually found the cab, found the wallet and returned it to the Academy Award-winning actor.
4. She Was Nominated for an Emmy for Her Work on a Meredith Vieira Documentary Whose Subject Was Later Found to Be a Con Man
After her tenure as a page ended, Nevils became a personal assistant to Today Show host Meredith Vieira for 10 months. Her relationship led to her becoming an assistant producer for “A Leap of Faith: A Meredith Vieira Special” in 2014 where she was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Feature Story in a News Magazine” as a member of the production team.
According to IMDB, in the special Vieira “interviews thoracic surgeon Paolo Macchiarini. This controversial surgeon has performed trachea transplant surgeries using patient’s stem cells as well as transplanting synthetic tracheas.”
Macchiarini went on to have an affair with Benita Alexander-Noel, the producer of the documentary, and was later exposed in this Vanity Fair article. He proposed to Alexander-Noel and promising her a lavish wedding with celebrity guests before it was later found out that the wedding was a big hoax and he was still married to his wife of 30 years.
According to The Guardian, most of the 17 patients he gave “regenerating” windpipes to are now dead.
Along with her work with Vieira, Nevils was a talent assistant at the “Today” show, an associate producer on “Rock Center With Brian Williams,” and a researcher for NBC Nightly News, among other roles at the news network.
5. She Is a Contributor to Woman’s Day Magazine
In addition to her work as a Producer at NBC, Nevils occasionally writes for Woman’s Day Magazine. She contributes self-help articles and “how-to” articles on things related to money and women’s issues.
Her content varies wildly in subject matter from “Could the Tragedy at UVA Happen to Anyone?” to “How to Pack Like a Travel Pro”.
She wrote most of her content in 2010 and 2011 where she published an article every few months but her work slowed down drastically, presumably as her producer work intensified. Her last article, “8 Clever Strategies for Saving Big With Coupons” was published in February 2016.
Nevils has also worked as an editorial assistant at Chicago Magazine and was an editorial board intern at the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun and an editorial intern at The Atlantic Monthly. She now lives in New York, according to her Twitter profile.