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US Matt Lauer: Ex-'Today' host denies rape charge; accuser tweets thanks

10:26  10 october  2019
10:26  10 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Trigger Warning: This article contains information and details about alleged sexual assault and/or violence, which may be upsetting to some readers.

Former NBC 'Today' show host Matt Lauer is seen on the set of the 'Today' show in New York, U.S., August 29, 2014. Picture taken August 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid © Thomson Reuters Former NBC 'Today' show host Matt Lauer is seen on the set of the 'Today' show in New York, U.S., August 29, 2014. Picture taken August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Resources to help survivors of sexual assault include the National Sex Assault Hotline (800-656-4673), and The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) online hotline.

Matt Lauer broke his silence Wednesday after new details of a rape allegation emerged against the former "Today" show anchor. 

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Variety reported late Tuesday that Ronan Farrow's Oct. 15 book "Catch and Kill" reveals a new allegation from Brooke Nevils, the previously unnamed former NBC News employee whose initial complaint led to Lauer getting fired from "Today" in November 2017. Variety reports that the book includes a claim he raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. 

In a lengthy letter provided by his lawyer to Variety, Lauer denied the allegations and painted the picture of an accusation full of contradictions. He said he has shied away until now from speaking out on the "false and salacious allegations" against him to protect his children. 

"I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period," Lauer wrote. "My silence has been a mistake. Old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say 'enough.'"

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Lauer denied Nevils' allegations as "categorically false." He corroborated Variety's report on Farrow's book that the two had a "sexual encounter" at the 2014 Sochi Olympics but maintained their relationship was "extramarital, but consensual." He said that night at the Olympics began a months-long affair based on mutual consent and included a sexual encounter in his dressing room at the "Today" show. 

"The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter," Lauer wrote. "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. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent."

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Lauer said he later "ended the affair poorly" and "simply stopped communicating" with Nevils. He said he first learned of any complaint from her from an NBC attorney on the day before "Today" show anchors revealed he had been fired. 

"I answered all questions openly and honestly for more than an hour," Lauer wrote. "At that meeting I was never told that Brooke claimed our encounter in Sochi was non-consensual. Had I been, I would have defended myself immediately."

At several points in the letter, he slammed Nevils for going public as a "promotional effort to sell a book." 

"She said she wanted to remain anonymous, yet she was reportedly trying to sell a book within year after filing her complaint," he wrote. "She said she just wanted NBC to 'do the right thing,' yet she sought a monetary payment, and two years after I was fired, she is stepping forward to do more damage.

USA TODAY has reached out to to Nevils' lawyer and Lauer's representative for further comment. 

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Nevils stepped forward with a tweet 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," she wrote.

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In a somber segment Wednesday morning on the "Today" show, co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb addressed the new allegations against Lauer, expressing to viewers that NBC staff members are "disturbed to our core" and working to process the latest revelations. 

"I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment," Guthrie said, noticeably emotional. "This is shocking and appalling. I honestly don't even know what to say about it. I want to say I know it wasn't easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it's not easy now and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. And it's just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the 'Today' show. It's very, very, very difficult."

Former "Today" journalist Ann Curry tweeted her support of Nevils Wednesday afternoon, saying she is "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."

Guthrie announced at the top of "Today" on Nov. 29, 2017, that Lauer, an NBC morning anchor since 1997, had been fired over sexual harassment allegations. On Wednesday, co-host Hoda Kotb, who has since permanently replaced Lauer, noticed striking similarities between their latest broadcast and the one they faced nearly two years ago.

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"I'm looking at you and having a weird moment: We were sitting here just like this two years ago," she told Guthrie. "Truth be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs before, just to sort of sort out what we were going to do. I think you feel like you've known someone for 12 years. I don't know if you guys have ever felt like that. You know someone, you feel like you know them inside and out, and then all of a sudden a door opens up and it's a part of them you didn't know."

Kotb continued: "We don't know all the facts on all of this, but there are not allegations of an affair, there are allegations of a crime. I think that's shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. So I think we're going to just sort of continue to process this part of this horrific story and as you said, our thoughts are with Brooke. It's not easy what she did, to come forward. It's not easy at all."

A representative for NBC referred USA TODAY to the statement provided to "Today" on behalf of NBC News: "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." 

NBC News chairman Andy Lack added: "Our highest priority is to ensure we have a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected. We are absolutely committed to making this a reality – there can be no exception."

In an internal memo to employees, Lack pushed back against claims that NBC News had any knowledge of Lauer's inappropriate behavior before his termination. 

"The first moment we learned of it was the night of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours," Lack said in the memo, obtained by USA TODAY. "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."

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He continued: "Following Lauer’s firing, NBCU's legal team did an exhaustive investigation of available records and conducted dozens of interviews of past and present staff. They uncovered no claims or settlements associated with allegations of inappropriate conduct by Lauer before he was fired. Only following his termination did NBCU reach agreements with two women who had come forward for the very first time."

 A representative for Farrow responded to Lack's claim to The Hollywood Reporter: "The claims by NBC’s senior management about Ronan Farrow’s reporting are simply not true, as his book will methodically demonstrate. In fact, relevant sections of the book confirm not only how many women were named, but also how much proof Ronan had gathered. Importantly, it documents the lengths to which NBC executives went to thwart the reporting efforts of Ronan and his producer Rich McHugh and why they did so."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Matt Lauer: Ex-'Today' host denies rape charge; accuser tweets thanks

Resources to help survivors of sexual assault include the National Sex Assault Hotline (800-656-4673), and The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) online hotline.

Matt Lauer reportedly wanted royal's sister to join 'Today' .
Matt Lauer tried desperately to woo Pippa Middleton to 'Today.'Page Six claims that the former host wanted Pippa to become a regular contributor, and even tried to recruit her to the morning show by shutting down a fancy restaurant, Donohue's Steak House in New York, for a meeting. The report didn't specify when the meeting occurred, but said the royal sibling was accompanied by her publicist at the time. Other "Today" executives were also there.

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