Former Today show anchor Matt Lauer is denying a claim that he raped an NBC staffer in 2014, alleging instead his relations with the woman were part of a consensual affair.
In a letter sent to Variety via his attorney, Lauer detailed what he says happened between himself and Brooke Nevils, his colleague at the time, during the Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi, Russia.
Lauer admitted to having an extramarital affair with Nevils in his hotel room, adding that the two "engaged in a variety of sexual acts," and that "each act was mutual and completely consensual."
"There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter," he said. "Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner."
But Nevils' allegation, which is detailed in journalist Ronan Farrow's newest book, Catch and Kill, tells a completely different story. (Variety published key excerpts from the book overnight).
After being invited to Lauer's hotel room, Nevils said he pushed her against the door and kissed her. Lauer, Nevils said, then forced her onto the bed, flipped her over, and asked "if she liked anal sex," the book says.
Nevils said she declined Lauer's advances many times, but that he proceeded to forcibly rape and sodomize her.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she reportedly told Farrow. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
She also told Farrow she blamed herself for later having a series of "transactional" sexual encounters with Lauer.
Years later, amid the Me Too movement, Nevils reportedly went to NBC's human resources department to file a complaint after opening up to Lauer's former cohost Meredith Viera. It was this complaint that then led to Lauer's sudden firing by the network in November 2017.
NBC did not immediately return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
In his letter, Lauer said called Nevils' claim " a dangerous and defamatory new allegation."
"In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault," he said. "It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense."
On the Wednesday morning broadcast of Today, Lauer's former colleagues Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, reacted to the news.
Guthrie said she supported Nevils and "any women who come forward with claims."
"It is just very painful," said Guthrie. "For all of us at NBC who are at the Today show, it is very very difficult."
“They are not allegations of an affair,” Kotb added. “They are allegations of a crime.”
Kotb later said of Lauer: “You feel like you know someone for 12 years, you feel like you know them inside and out, and all of the sudden a door opens up and it is a part of them you didn’t know."
Amid the slew of sexual misconduct claims against Lauer that emerged with his firing, one detail that came out was that the host allegedly had a button near his desk that allowed him to automatically lock the door to his office.
But Lauer pushed back on this claim in his letter addressing Nevils' claim.
"It would have been impossible to confine anyone in my office, for any purpose, and I have never attempted to make anyone feel as if they were confined in my office,” he said.
“I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.”
Once Lauer was let go from NBC, he said he chose not to speak out because he didn't want to fan the flames and make things worse for the people he loved most: his family.
However, in light of this latest news, the former anchor said, "For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations."
"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," said Lauer. "And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence."