Matt Lauer has issued a letter in response to a rape accusation made against him by former NBC News staffer Brooke Nevils. In the lengthy open letter, the disgraced former “Today” show host denies ever sexually assaulting Nevils, saying the two engaged in an affair that was consensual.
Nevils spoke out publicly for the first time about her accusation against Lauer in an interview with Ronan Farrow for his upcoming book, “Catch and Kill.” Variety obtained a copy of the book and published parts of Farrow’s interview with Nevils. The 35-year-old former NBC News producer told Farrow that Lauer anally raped her in a hotel room in Sochi, Russia, at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Both were there working for NBC at the time.
Nevils had previously remained anonymous, but her accusation led to Lauer being fired by NBC from his “Today” show job in 2017. Lauer was also accused of harassment and sexual misconduct by other women.
In his letter, Lauer said he did not rape Nevils. He said he has not spoken out during the two years since his firing, but said his silence was a “mistake.”
Nevils responded to the letter 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.”
You can read the full letter distributed by Lauer below:
Lauer Says the Rape Accusation Is ‘Categorically False, Ignores the Facts & Defies Common Sense’
The statement was released by Lauer’s legal team on October 9. Here is his full 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.
Nevils Says She Did Continue Her Relationship With Lauer After the Alleged Assault, but Says It Was ‘Completely Transactional
According to Variety, Nevils told Farrow that after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, she continued to see 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.”
Nevils told Farrow, “This is what I blame myself most for. It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.” Nevils said she felt like Lauer had power over her career. She said after they ended their relationship she told, “like a million people,” about what had happened in Sochi. In 2017, as the #MeToo movement went viral, she decided to tell colleagues about the incident and reported it to NBC.
“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 told Farrow she never sought money, but as her career at NBC became untenable, she took a seven-figure payout from the company after going on medical leave in 2018.
NBC News Says Lauer’s Conduct Was ‘Appalling’ & That Is Why He Was Fired
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.”
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, according to USA Today. “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. You know, it’s very, very, very difficult.”
Her co-host, Kotb, said, “I’m looking at you and I’m having a weird moment that we were sitting her just like this two years ago. Truth be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs just before just to sort of sort out what we were going to do. And I think it’s like you feel you’ve known someone for 12 years, and I don’t know if you guys have ever felt like that, you know someone, you feel like you know them inside and out and then all of a sudden like a door opens up and it’s a part of them you didn’t know.”
Kotb added, “And we don’t know all the facts on all of this, but there are not allegations of an affair, these are allegations of a crime. And I think that’s shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. So I think that 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.”
Guthrie said, “I think I speak for all of us, we are disturbed to our core.”
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.”