Three women allege they were sexually harassed by former The Today Show host Matt Lauer, according to a bombshell report by Variety published Wednesday afternoon.
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 organisation's Human Resources department, alleging Lauer engaged on inappropriate sexual behaviour 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 behaviour 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 £19 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 of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.