"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC," Lauer said in a statement read by his former colleagues at The Today Show.
NBC News fired Lauer on Wednesday, after a colleague alleged he began an inappropriate sexual behavior towards her at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Hours later, Variety published an exposé in which three women accused Lauer of sexual harassment at the workplace.
Simultaneously, The New York Times reported that at least two more women filed new complaints about Lauer with the network in the aftermath of his firing. One of the women alleges that the former host sexually assaulted her.
This story was originally published on November 29, 2017.
The women agreed to speak with the outlet on the condition of anonymity, since they feared professional repercussions. The article details how Lauer allegedly gave a sex toy to a colleague as a "gift" alongside a sexually explicit note, exposed himself to another NBC News employee, and would often make lewd comments to his female coworkers either in person or via text message. He would also play the game "fuck, marry, or kill" in front of both male and female colleagues, in which he identified which female co-hosts he would like to have sex with.
Wednesday morning Lauer was fired by NBC News after a colleague went to the organization's Human Resources department, alleging Lauer engaged on inappropriate sexual behavior towards her starting on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and that the conduct lasted for several months.
"While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said in a memo to staffers announcing Lauer's departure.
But, according to Variety, the women interviewed for the article had complained to NBC about Lauer's behavior in the past — and the network didn't do anything. NBC declined to comment on those allegations for the Variety story.
Lauer has a $25 million annual salary and for most of his tenure at Today, which he joined as a co-host in 1997, the show was #1 in ratings. According to Variety, his conduct was an open secret among staffers.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).