Woman accuses Matt Lauer of rape; former anchor denies claim

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who worked at NBC News claimed that former anchor Matt Lauer raped her at a hotel
while on assignment for the Sochi Olympics, an encounter the former "Today" show host claimed
was consensual.
The claim outlined by Brooke Nevils in Ronan Farrow’s book, "Catch and Kill," puts a name and
details behind the event that led to Lauer’s firing by NBC in 2017. It also provoked the first public
response from Lauer, who said in a defiant and graphic letter made public by his lawyer that "my
silence was a mistake."
Variety first reported Nevils’ charges after obtaining a copy of Farrow’s book. The Associated Press
typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, unless they step forward publicly as
Nevils has done.
Nevils, who was working for Meredith Vieira in Sochi, met her for drinks one night and Lauer joined them.
Nevils said she had six shots of vodka and wound up going to Lauer’s room.
She said that Lauer pushed her onto a bed and asked if she liked anal sex. Nevils said she declined
several times, but then Lauer "just did it." She described the encounter as
"excruciatingly painful."
"It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," Nevils told Farrow,
according to Variety. "It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to
have anal sex."
In his letter, Lauer admitted to his extramarital affair with Nevils. He said on that night in Sochi that
they consensually performed a variety of sexual acts.
"She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner," he wrote. "At no time did she behave
in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to
Lauer’s defense of his behavior extends beyond his relationship with Nevils. He said has "never
assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period."
He also admits to other extramarital encounters, and criticized the women involved for having
"abandoned shared responsibility" for the affairs to shield themselves from blame behind false
"They have avoided having to look at a boyfriend, a husband or a child in the eye and say, ‘I
cheated,’" Lauer said. "And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence."
Lauer said the night in Sochi was the first of several sexual encounters he had with Nevils over several
months, including one in his dressing room at NBC, which "showed terrible judgment on my
Nevils’ lawyer did not immediately return a message for comment on Lauer’s letter Wednesday.
Eleanor McManus, who co-founded the group Press Forward to support victims of sexual abuse in the news
industry, said Lauer’s letter was "unbelievable.
"Lauer’s statement demonstrates not only his lack of remorse, but his lack of understanding of
sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement," said McManus, who said she was harassed by journalist
Mark Halperin. "Nowhere in his letter does Lauer acknowledge the power he yielded as a celebrity
and the star of NBC’s highest-rated show. The two people in that hotel room in Sochi did not have equal
NBC News abruptly fired Lauer for "inappropriate sexual conduct."
"Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time," NBC
News said in a statement Wednesday. "That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning
of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague."
Nevils’ story was reported Wednesday on the show Lauer hosted for two decades. His former co-anchor,
Savannah Guthrie, called it shocking and appalling.
"We’re disturbed to our core," Guthrie said.
Lauer said in his letter that he ended the affair poorly and understands how that must have made Nevils
He said that he hadn’t responded publicly before to allegations in order to spare his family pain, but
that now he has their support to address them publicly.
"Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person," Lauer wrote. "I had no
desire to write this, but I had no choice."