In the book, obtained by Variety ahead of its Oct. 15 release, former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils claims that Lauer sexually assaulted her in a hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lauer denied the allegations in a lengthy statement on Wednesday, saying it was “completely consensual.” (Read Lauer’s statement in its entirety.)
Nevils, a former producer at NBC News, detailed that the alleged incident occurred after a night of drinking at the hotel bar. She was initially with Vieira, whom she was working with on Olympics coverage. At some point in the night, they were joined by Lauer.
The women went back several years, as Nevils served as Vieira’s personal assistant when Vieira was still a Today co-host. Vieira declined to comment to Yahoo Entertainment on Wednesday. A spokesperson said, “We believe it is Brooke’s story to tell and we will leave it there.”
Nevils claimed that she went to Lauer’s room that night and he anally raped her amid her protests and tears.
While Nevils admitted to having sexual encounters with Lauer after the alleged rape when they returned to New York (“This is what I blame myself most for,” she told Farrow), she ended up telling multiple people at NBC about the alleged attack, including those in a supervisory role. Farrow described it in the book as “no secret.”
However, nothing happened until after women came forward with allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017 and the #MeToo movement exploded. Nevils told Farrow she then revealed the alleged rape to Vieira for the first time. The book noted that Vieira was distraught over it and urged Nevils to go to NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer. Nevils did and Lauer was terminated for “inappropriate workplace behavior.” Nevils’s identity was kept secret at the time at her request.
Over the last two years, however, Vieira has been asked many times about the accusations that led to Lauer’s firing.
In an interview with People magazine last month, she said it was “like a gut punch,” even though they hadn’t worked together full time in years. (She left her role as Today co-host in 2011.) “I was [in L.A.] and my phone started going off at 4 a.m. I didn’t know what to make of all of it. It was a shock.”
Having worked side by side on the morning show for five years, “Matt and I were very close,” Vieira continued. “He was very kind to me.”
And while a clip of Lauer commenting on her buttocks on Today went viral after his firing, she said she never felt uncomfortable or unsafe with him on the set. There was “joking around,” she said, “but I never took it as anything. We were like brother and sister.”
However, she wouldn’t divulge the current status of her relationship with Lauer. “It’s so complicated,” was her reply to People. “The whole thing is just sad. And it’s been rough in a lot of places with a lot of people.”
A month earlier, she told the Los Angeles Times that she had not spoken to Lauer since his firing. She also said she was surprised by the whole thing because “this was a guy that I thought I knew. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on in television. There are people who have affairs. This was a different level; this wasn’t that.”
Earlier this year, Vieira told Us Weekly that “everybody was surprised” about Lauer’s axing. “It was handled by HR and the network, and that’s the way it should be done … I don’t think people ever saw [it coming].”
She went on to say she said she was sorry for the pain it caused his family — Lauer’s wife, Annette Roque, filed for divorce in July — “along with all the women, obviously. But there are so many people who are in a situation like that; a lot of collateral damage.”
In 2018, Vieira spoke out for the first time about it on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM radio show. She said, “It’s heartbreaking when you’re in the business and you know people, or you think you know people, and then to hear the stories come out.”
She went on to say, “I really appreciate the #MeToo movement. I think it’s long overdue. Clearly, there’s been a problem that has been ignored, and a lot of people have been hurt, and I think they deserve to have their truth told. What I hope happens from all of this is that we create a workplace where women and men will feel safe.”
In Lauer’s statement on Wednesday, he said he had an “extramarital affair” with Nevils. He said the rape allegation is “categorically false, ignores the facts and defies common sense.”
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