“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 a statement to NBC News Wednesday night, hours after Lauer claimed a consensual affair in his lengthy self-defense. “His open letter was a case study in victim blaming … 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.”
In an interview with Ronan Farrow for his forthcoming book “Catch and Kill,” Nevils said Lauer raped her in his hotel room after a night of drinks during the network’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Her allegation led to Lauer’s firing in 2017, after she informed NBC’s human resources department about it amid the escalating Me Too movement. NBC said it booted Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Nevils said she stayed anonymous for personal safety and fear of professional repercussions, but decided to reveal her identity and her story of the encounter ― describing it publicly for the first time as rape ― to Farrow. Excerpts of the book were published by Variety on Tuesday night.
Lauer responded Wednesday in a 1,400-word open letter published by Variety. He denied Nevils’ rape claim, attacked her and several other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, and sought to portray himself as the victim.
Lauer accused Nevils, with whom he had an extramarital affair, of fabricating details “intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter.” He claimed she was trying to promote herself, “stepping into the spotlight to cause as much damage as she can,” and said she and his other accusers “have done enormous damage.”
“For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations,” Lauer wrote. “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. And I will no longer provide them the shelter of my silence.”
Lauer’s letter repeatedly questioned Nevils’ story, pointing out that they had consensual sexual interactions after the alleged rape. Nevils acknowledged that sexual relationship to Farrow. Sexual assault survivors often stay with their abusers and continue to have consensual sexual relationships with them, typically because of the unequal power dynamic.
“This is what I blame myself most for,” Nevils told Farrow, according to the book excerpts. “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
In a tweet Wednesday, Nevils thanked other sexual assault survivors for supporting her.
Among those backing her was former “Today” host Ann Curry, who has said she warned NBC leadership of Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct in 2012.
Curry, a longtime NBC host, became “Today” co-anchor in 2011, but was pushed out a year later. She reportedly did not get along with Lauer and complained that the show had a “boys’ club atmosphere.”
Farrow’s book also says NBC leadership looked the other way in response to reports of Lauer’s abuse, and tried to derail Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein, eventually published in The New Yorker.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
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