Ronan Farrow interviewed Brooke Nevils, a former NBC News employee, in his new book, Catch and Kill. For the first time, Nevils detailed her assault at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Lauer, in an open letter published Wednesday morning by Variety, denied the claims, calling the encounter Nevils described “an extramarital but consensual” affair.
“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,” Lauer wrote.
Lauer claimed he and Nevils had an extramarital affair that began in Sochi, Russia, in 2014. The night of the alleged rape, he wrote, "We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.”
According to Nevils, Lauer took her press credential “as a joke” and invited Nevils back to his hotel room to retrieve it. Farrow wrote that Nevils felt she “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.” Once she was in his room, Nevils alleges that Lauer pushed her onto the bed, asking if she liked anal sex. She said she declined several times and told Farrow, “he just did it.”
“It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, ‘Is this normal?’” Nevils recalled. She said that, afterward, Lauer asked if she “liked it,” and she said yes.
Nevils told Farrow that even if she had agreed to anal sex with Lauer, she was too inebriated to consent. Furthermore, “I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex,” she said.
“Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific, and reprehensible, as we said at the time,” said NBC News in a statement. “That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
When Lauer was accused of misconduct and fired in 2017, his former female colleagues, Today co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, announced his dismissal from the network. This morning, once again, NBC News tasked Guthrie and Kotb with addressing the allegations on air. As Anne Cohen wrote for Refinery29 at the time of Lauer's firing, "The question is, why should they have had to do it at all? Why are women responsible for explaining a male colleague's poor behavior?"
Guthrie and Kotb handled the allegations with professionalism and an admission that the breaking story has been a difficult one. “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,” Guthrie said. “It’s just very painful for all of us at NBC.”
Kotb added, “[These] are not allegations of an affair; they’re 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 we’re going to continue to process this part of this horrific story. Our thoughts are with Brooke.”
Refinery29 has reached out to Nevils for comment.
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).