Curry says a female staffer at the network told her she was "sexually harassed physically" by Lauer
In a Washington Post report published Thursday, Lauer’s former co-anchor Ann Curry said she approached two members of NBC’s management team in 2012 after a female staffer at the network told her she was “sexually harassed physically” by Lauer.
The NBC staffer confirmed to the Post that she went to Curry with her complaint, but remained anonymous because she fears retaliation.
“A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her,” Curry told the newspaper. “She was afraid of losing her job … I believed her.”
Curry said the woman implored that she not reveal her name to anyone and she obliged — but she did specifically name Lauer in her conversation with management.
“I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” she said. (PEOPLE has reached out to Curry and Lauer for further comment.)
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Curry, who reportedly has a non-disclosure agreement with the company, declined to name the management officials she says she approached. An NBC spokesman told the Post the company has no record of her warning and said there was no mention of it in Lauer’s personnel file, noting that current NBC News chairman Andy Lack was not at the network at the time.
After barely a year co-hosting Today with Lauer, Curry, 61, left the NBC morning show in 2012 — the same year she says she reported Lauer. Her exit was a painful ordeal that came complete with gossip-column speculation that her firing had been due in part to a lack of “chemistry” with Lauer, 60, and amid reports that he had played a part in forcing her out. (NBC sources have told PEOPLE falling ratings were to blame.)
Curry told the Post there was “pervasive verbal sexual harassment at NBC” but that she understands reluctance to report harassment.
“This is one of the problems when we talk about corporations with an HR department being under leadership of someone who might or might not be accused,” she said. “How are they going to complain about it if they are accusing someone who is overseeing the department that is supposed to protect them?”
“Do you have a system that allows those who feel they have been victimized to air their complaints without fear they will lose their jobs?” she added. “I don’t know a company that does.”
RELATED VIDEO: Ann Curry On Her Reaction To The Matt Lauer Scandal: “I’m Not a Vengeful Person.”
Lauer provided the newspaper with a statement on Wednesday, his first since he initially addressed his firing in November.
“Five months ago I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers,” he said in a statement. “A day later I took responsibility, apologized to the people I had hurt and promised to begin the process of repairing the damage I had caused my family. I have worked every day since then to honor that promise,” Lauer said in his statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday and published on Thursday. (Lauer’s lawyers say that Lauer’s statement was not published in full by the Washington Post.)
“I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months- including a claim that I would, or even could, lock someone in my office. I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost.
“But defending my family now requires me to speak up. I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false,” he concluded the statement.
RELATED VIDEO: Matt Lauer & Wife Annette Are ‘Preparing’ to Divorce, Source Says the ‘Damage Can’t Be Fixed’
An insider previously told PEOPLE that Lauer was let go due to sexual misconduct throughout 2014 with a female staffer, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Women have also anonymously accused Lauer of sexual harassment and assault in reports published by Variety and The New York Times.
Speaking to PEOPLE in January, Curry opened up about her reaction to Lauer’s firing, saying she felt “outrage” that such alleged misconduct was tolerated and “tremendous empathy for the victims.”
But she certainly isn’t one to gloat, even amid the downfall of a man once depicted as her nemesis.
“I’m not a vengeful person,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be humiliated. I just don’t want to play a part in anyone else’s humiliation.”
“I wish I could say that I was celebrating,” she added. “But actually I immediately checked myself. Because I knew women had suffered.”