Addie Collins Zinone says she had a month-long affair with Matt Lauer in 2000

By Natalie Stone
October 10, 2019 03:58 PM
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Former Today show staff member Addie Zinone (née Collins) is speaking out against Matt Lauer after he denied raping NBC News colleague Brooke Nevils.

In a candid statement on Thursday, Zinone — who went public in December 2017 about an alleged in-office affair she had with Lauer 17 years prior — condemned the ousted Today show co-anchor’s response to the new allegation.

“I was deeply shocked and saddened by Matt Lauer’s letter yesterday in response to Brooke’s allegations of sexual assault,” Zinone said in her statement to Entertainment Tonight.

“The seeming lack of contrition, misstatements, and threatening tone is an attempt to manipulate and control the narrative for his own gain. He is determined to undermine and tarnish the reputation of the brave women who courageously come forward,” she continued. “This is precisely why so many don’t.”

On Wednesday, Lauer, 61, penned a lengthy letter to Variety after the magazine published details from Ronan Farrow‘s Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. In the upcoming book, Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In his letter, Lauer, who was fired in November 2017 due to Nevils’ complaint, denied the rape allegation and said he stayed mostly silent for the past two years to protect his family. He now calls his silence “a mistake.”

Zinone continued, “This paragraph is particularly triggering for me and so many others,” quoting the following lines from Lauer’s letter: “Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person. I had no desire to write this, but I had no choice. The details I have written about here open deep wounds for my family. But they also lead to the truth. For two years, the women with whom I had extramarital relationships have abandoned shared responsibility, and instead, shielded themselves from blame behind false allegations. 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.'”

Said Zinone: “Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a very private person.”

Credit: Courtesy Addie Collins Zione; Mike Coppola/Getty

“I had no desire to come out of the shadows from the pain his abuse of power inflicted on me in NBC’s newsroom,” she said. “I never had, nor do I have, anything to gain in telling my truth. In fact, I have everything to lose, but when I realized I was not alone, I was willing to lift the veil on that time to validate the accusations of others. I felt it was the right thing to do.”

She continued: “I already lived with reporters from the National Enquirer hounding me over the years; I was not going to give them that power again. No one wants to be known for these issues, but after this story broke in Nov 2017, I decided I would no longer provide him the safety of my 17 years of silence, no matter the personal cost (which has been great, evidenced by every comment section under stories of my experience with him). Please do not confuse my willingness to speak up, however, with fearlessness. I’m petrified and humiliated that the world knows the intimate details of this experience.”

Zinone then detailed her own alleged month-long affair with Lauer, which she said in 2017 began with Lauer in June 2000 when she was working as a 24-year-old production assistant on the NBC morning show.

“That said, here are the facts: I was a single 24-year-old intern-turned-production assistant; he was a married 42-year-old man, the most powerful and successful man at NBC, arguably in all of journalism. The trajectory of my life and career changed drastically as a result of this experience. I have never given false allegations when it comes to this story. To suggest I haven’t been honest is a deflection, meant to ruin my credibility and reputation. I did look my (now) husband in the eyes and tell him about my participation in what happened all those years ago, and they have been horrible, guilt-ridden conversations. My children had to find out about it when they Googled my name and found words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ instead of the philanthropy and military service I proudly pursued in 2002 in addition to my journalism career,” wrote Zinone. “Mr. Lauer’s attempts to slut-shame and rewrite history will not work. It is troubling he has no understanding of, or empathy for, the pain he has inflicted with his brazen and predatory abuse of power on young, vulnerable women who had no voice. But now we do. I have always admitted my part in this – I deeply wish I had been stronger – but he knows it should not have happened. It was wrong – full stop. It cost him his career; his reputation. He will live with that forever. To be sure, so will we. Journalists are tasked with exposing this behavior, not perpetuating it. Power corrupts and he is not immune.”

She concluded: “I am thankful for the opportunity to move the conversation forward and uncover the truth with assistance from courageous journalists like Ronan Farrow. We rise above our individual experiences and focus on the need to create systemic change through education, training, dialogue and helping the most vulnerable, so that what I experienced, no one will ever have to again.”

Following Lauer’s denial, Nevils also slammed his open letter, calling it a “case study in victim shaming.”

On Wednesday, Nevils released a statement, which aired on NBC Nightly News saying, “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.”

“His open letter was a case study in victim blaming,” Nevils said, adding, “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,” Nevils concluded.

Nevils also expressed gratitude to those who have been moved to share their own stories after hearing hers.

“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,” Nevils tweeted.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.