- NBC has received two new complaints about Matt Lauer, the “Today” show cohost whom the network fired on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
- One of the complaints is from a woman who says that in 2001, Lauer invited her to his office, locked the door from the inside, then sexually assaulted her, the Times report says.
- Multiple current and former NBC staffers also told Variety that Lauer engaged in rampant sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour during his years at the network.
A former NBC employee filed a complaint to the network on Wednesday saying the longtime “Today” show cohost Matt Lauer summoned her to his office in 2001, locked the door, and sexually assaulted her, The New York Times reported.
The woman told The Times that after Lauer locked the door by using a button under his desk, he asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did, then pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair, and assaulted her. She said she eventually passed out, woke up on the floor of Lauer’s office, and was taken to a nurse by Lauer’s assistant.
The former employee told The Times that Lauer had made inappropriate comments to her since she began working as a producer on “Today” in the late 1990s, including asking her whether she had ever cheated on her husband. She said Lauer also once sat uncomfortably close to her in a car while the pair were travelling for a story, then when she turned away said, “You’re no fun.”
The woman told The Times that she did not report the assault earlier because she felt helpless and ashamed, believed she could have done more to stop Lauer, and feared she would lose her job. She added that Lauer never spoke of the incident, nor made another advance afterward.
She left NBC roughly a year later, she said.
Multiple women come forward
The allegation was one of two new complaints lodged with NBC against Lauer on Wednesday, The Times reported.
The network had fired him earlier in the day after receiving an initial complaint from an employee about “inappropriate sexual behaviour.” NBC News’ chairman, Andy Lack, said in a statement on Wednesday morning that the network had reviewed that complaint and had “reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Citing two people briefed on the meeting, The Times reported that Lack told NBC staff in a subsequent meeting that Lauer’s involvement with the woman who filed the initial complaint started in during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and continued after they returned to New York.
Details from the women’s complaints are similar to others in a Variety investigation published Wednesday.
That report included multiple allegations from current and former NBC employees that Lauer had engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behaviour during his time at the network.
Two women told Variety that Lauer had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock the door from the inside and that he sometimes used it after inviting women into his office.
NBC staffers have since said that many high-level executives at the network had the same buttons in their offices.
NBC insiders also told Variety that Lauer regularly invited women to his hotel room during the 2014 Olympics.
The Variety report, which the outlet says was based on “dozens of interviews with current and former staffers,” says Lauer once gifted a sex toy to one female colleague, accompanied by a note about how he wanted to use it on her.
It also says he exposed himself to another female employee after summoning her to his office, then reprimanding her for not participating in a sexual act.
The current and former staffers told Variety that Lauer would frequently partake in crude behaviour, including quizzing female employees about who they had slept with and playing the game “f—, marry, kill” in which he would name female cohosts he wanted to sleep with.
Several staffers told Variety they had complained to network executives about Lauer’s behaviour but were ignored.
Lauer issued a statement on Thursday morning.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said. “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
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