Former “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer sparked a war of words when his letter denying rape allegations prompted a scathing rebuttal from his accuser.
The former NBC News employee, whose 2017 complaint against Lauer led to his termination from the network, fired back Wednesday, calling his open letter “a case study in victim-blaming.”
Brooke Nevils released a statement to NBC News hours after Lauer’s stunning 1,400-word denial in an open letter angrily denying her allegation that he had raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer insisted the alleged assault was consensual and Nevils slammed him for trying to “bully” her into silence.
“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,” the 35-year-old said in a statement. “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.”
Lauer was fired for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” in 2017 immediately after Nevils informed NBC’s human resources department about the incident amid the backdrop of the growing #MeToo movement. Excerpts from the soon-to-be-released book by Ronan Farrow, “Catch and Kill,” were published by Variety on Tuesday, revealing for the first time publicly Nevils’ identity and her allegations.
‘Today’ show hosts respond to ‘shocking and appalling’ accusation of Matt Lauer rape https://t.co/sHu4SvQXF5
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 9, 2019
Nevils alleged Lauer pushed her against his hotel room door and kissed her before pushing her onto the bed where he had sex with her after she allegedly told him she didn’t want to several times.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she told Farrow in the book, also revealing that she had more sexual encounters with Lauer once they were back in New York City.
Lauer fired back at the reports and the former NBC News employee’s accusations, breaking his silence on his firing in a scathing three-page letter published by Variety. He denied the “false and salacious” rape claim and ended up effectively defending himself as the victim as he slammed Nevils and other women who had accused him of sexual misconduct.
“For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations,” Lauer wrote. “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.”
He admitted to having an extramarital affair with Nevils but insisted that they had consensual sexual interactions, even after the incident Nevils described as rape. He accused Nevils of having made up the details “intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter.”
‘This is what I blame myself most for,’” Nevils had told Farrow in her interview for the book. “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
Lauer slammed the rape allegation, saying it was “categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense,” while arguing that it was “part of a promotional effort to sell a book.”
He offered graphic details of his encounter with Nevils:
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.
He claimed Nevils did not appear to be “incapable of consent and that she “seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do,” adding that she “embraced” him at the door as she left. He went on to detail how they continued the affair once back in New York and that they even once had a sexual encounter in his NBC dressing room.
Lauer claimed that he eventually stopped the affair and tried to go back to his married life but Nevils continued to try to “rekindle” things, eventually becoming upset enough that she went to NBC. But “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,” Lauer insisted.
He questioned her allegations and said the rape claim “crossed the line,” adding that ” I had no desire to write this, but I had no choice.”
Lauer’s ex-wife Annette Roque also broke her silence, speaking out through her lawyer for the first time since the 2017 allegations.
“In response to your inquiry, our client has asked us to tell you that now that the parties are officially divorced, her priority and only concern is for their wonderful children,” her lawyer John M. Teitler told People. “Our client will make no further statements.”
Roque and Lauer, who have three children together, divorced after 20 years of marriage following his NBC downfall.
Nevils thanked the “many survivors” who spoke to her, reaching out in a message on Twitter Wednesday.
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.
— Brooke Nevils (@BrookeNevils) October 9, 2019
Farrow and former “Today” host Ann Curry were some of the many who voiced their support of Nevils on Twitter.
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. https://t.co/k4LT3MEh5Q
— Ann Curry (@AnnCurry) October 9, 2019
Nevils did an incredibly brave thing coming forward the way she did. She upended her life to ensure accountability and protect others. https://t.co/BURSBiCxdn
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) October 9, 2019
The attacks being heaped on Brooke Nevils by ppl who have no clue how unchecked power can infect a workplace are deeply misguided. No sane person can think Lauer’s behavior here-that to which he *admits*-was anything less than abhorrent. How was he able to get away w/it so long?
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) October 10, 2019
Matt Lauer’s denial is the creepiest denial I have ever read.
Why in the world would he include all these DETAILS!!! He also confirms every part of Farrow’s reporting except the consent issue.
LAUER: “I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began…
— John Ocasio-Nolte (@NolteNC) October 9, 2019
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