Matt Lauer Exposed Himself to a Today Show Producer at Work Event, Ronan Farrow Claims in Book
Brooke Nevils isn’t the only woman to accuse Matt Lauer of sexual misconduct in Ronan Farrow ’s new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (out now).
In the book, Farrow writes that Lauer exposed himself to former Today show producer Melissa Lonner at a work event in 2010.
Farrow says that Lonner — who declined to comment for the book — told colleagues that Lauer asked her to leave the party at 30 Rock to “see him in his office.”
Once inside his office, Lauer, 61, reportedly asked her to sit down on a couch.
“He joked about how much he disliked work cocktail parties like the one they’d just attended,” writes Farrow, 31. “Then, she told the colleagues, he unzipped his pants and exposed his erect penis.”
Lonner remembered “reeling” in response and nervously joking about not wanting to be intimate in his office because “everyone else has done it,” according to Farrow.
After she rejected him, Lauer reportedly became angry, saying, “Melissa you’re a f—– tease,” Farrow writes.
Sources close to Lauer told Farrow that former anchor made lewd gestures to Lonner but did not expose himself, according to Catch and Kill.
After the incident, Lonner allegedly confided in Ann Curry. “It was as close as you could get to a woman just melting in front of you in pain,” Curry tells Farrow in the book.
While Lonner asked Curry not to report her name, Curry went to two senior executives to tell them “that they had a problem with [Lauer]. That he had a problem with women,” she said in the book. Though, “as far as Curry ever heard, nothing happened” to him. (In April 2018, Curry told the Washington Post that she had reported an instance of sexual harassment against Lauer to NBC brass before leaving Today in 2012, without revealing the accuser’s name. “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” she said.)
However, on Monday, Noah Oppenheim refuted Lonner’s allegation in a memo to staffers at NBC News and MSNBC, claiming Lonner never filed a complaint against Lauer and that her exit from the company was by the books.
“At the time of the employee’s exit, three years later, she still had made no complaint about Lauer, was paid 22 weeks of severance based on her years of service and was asked to sign a separation agreement that was standard for departing employees at the time,” the division’s president said. “The standard separation agreement included a routine confidentiality clause that was designed to protect proprietary company information. It was not drafted to prevent an employee from reporting misconduct, and it has never been used that way. (This employee made a complaint to management about Lauer, for the first time, after his 2017 firing.)”
He also slammed the claim that Curry told two executives about the incident.
“Farrow says she disclosed her allegation to Ann Curry in 2010, and asked her not to share it. Curry says she then told two executives – both of whom are no longer with the company – that Lauer ‘had a problem with women,’ ” he wrote. “By her own account, Curry relayed no specific complaint, nor did she say Lauer’s ‘problem’ regarded any specific workplace misconduct. NBCU was able to speak with one of those former executives during the 2018 review and she denied having been told even this.”
According to Farrow’s book, when Lonner noticed Lauer ignoring her in the weeks that followed, she began looking for other jobs. However, when she got a job offer, the network urged her not to leave, even claiming Lauer personally “insisted” that she stay, Farrow writes.
“I don’t know what’s going on between you two,” one executive allegedly told her, according to the book. “But I need you to keep him happy.”
Lonner stayed at NBC for several more years until her contract ended, and she was ultimately fired, according to Farrow. But when she left, she was offered a “six-figure sum in exchange for signing a release of rights,” — something her then-agent found strange.
“Lonner’s understanding was that the primary intention of the payout was to prevent her from talking to the press,” Farrow writes.
Lauer was fired from the Today show for sexual misconduct in 2017. In the book, former NBC employee Brooke Nevils accuses him of anally raping her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which Lauer denies.
In a letter to Variety, Lauer — who was married to now ex-wife Annette Roque at the time — repeatedly characterized his relationship with Nevils as “mutual.”
And in a statement to PEOPLE, Lauer’s attorney Elizabeth M. Locke said: “In 25 years at NBC, Matt Lauer did not have a single complaint brought to his attention until November 28, 2017. NBC has already stated this for the record after an internal investigation. I am sure NBC will have much to say about Ronan’s claims.”