Brooke Nevils, the former NBC News employee who has accused former “Today” host Matt Lauer of rape, released a statement Wednesday night in which she said he was trying to “bully” her with an open letter denying the allegations.
“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,” Nevils said in her statement to NBC News, referring to Lauer’s letter.
“His open letter was a case study in victim blaming and concluded by threatening any other woman who might dare to speak out against him,” she said.
Nevils told investigative journalist Ronan Farrow that Lauer raped her while the two were in Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to a report in Variety. Variety reported the allegations after reading an advance copy of Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill.” NBC News has not seen a copy of the book.
Lauer, in an open letter issued by his attorney, Libby Locke of the law firm Clare Locke, denied the accusation of sexual assault. He confirmed he had a sexual relationship with Nevils, but claimed it was “completely consensual.”
“In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault,” Lauer said in part of the letter. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.”
Nevils rebuts Lauer’s claims in her statement, saying she “provided dates, times, evidence of communications, and corroborating accounts.”
She said she was “not afraid” of Lauer when she reported him to NBC News in November 2017, “and 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. The shame in this story belongs to him.”
Lauer, who was on “Today” for two decades, was fired by NBC News within 24 hours of Nevils making a detailed complaint accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior.
In a statement issued after the Variety report, NBC News said: “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
In a memo to staff sent Wednesday afternoon, NBC News Chairman Andy Lack reiterated the findings of the company’s investigation, which found that the company’s leadership and management were not aware of Lauer’s conduct prior to Nevils’ meeting with human resources.
“Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive,” Lack wrote.
NBCUniversal said in May 2018 that a five-month internal investigation found no evidence that any NBC News or “Today” show leadership, human resources personnel or others in positions of authority were aware of allegations of sexual misconduct made by four women against Lauer before November 2017.