When top executives at NBC first sat down with Matt Lauer to address allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, the longtime Today show anchor didn’t deny that he had an affair with another employee.
On Wednesday, over five months after Lauer was fired, the network released the findings of its internal investigation into the scandal. The investigation, which was led by NBCUniversal general counsel Kim Harris, focused on four complainants’ allegations and resulted from nearly 70 interviews with current and former employees and over 30 focus groups with 262 current employees.
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In the first paragraphs of the report, the investigation team states that Lauer “admitted to engaging in sexual activity” with the anonymous woman whose allegations prompted his firing.
“On November 22, 2017, a member of the Human Resources department for the News Division received an email from a woman stating that she had a serious concern to report,” reads the report. “News HR immediately reported the matter to a senior employment lawyer at NBCUniversal (the ‘Company’), the corporate parent of the News Division. The complainant ultimately agreed to be interviewed by News HR and the same senior NBCUniversal employment lawyer on November 27, 2017. During that interview, the complainant alleged that Matt Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with her on several occasions in 2014. The interview team found her detailed allegations to be credible.”
“On November 28, 2017, Lauer was interviewed by senior members of NBCUniversal corporate HR and Legal,” continues the report. “During the interview, Lauer admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the complainant. The Company determined that his conduct violated Company policy and terminated Lauer’s employment on November 28, effective immediately. Within the two weeks after Lauer’s termination was announced publicly by NBC News on November 29, 2017, the Company received information about three additional women, who each alleged that Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace with them in 2000, 2001 and 2007, respectively.”
Lauer himself addressed his past relationships with colleagues in a statement to the Washington Post last month.
“Five months ago I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers,” he said. “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.”
“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,” he continued. “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.”
The investigation also directly addressed claims that Lauer had engaged in sexual activity with co-workers.
“Most witnesses interviewed stated that they had heard or read rumors about Lauer’s personal life, including tabloid stories about the troubled state of his marriage and the possibility of extramarital affairs, but those witnesses believed, with limited exceptions, that the rumored extramarital affairs were with women outside of the Company,” according to the report. “Many interviewed expressed shock upon reading press reports regarding Lauer’s alleged behavior, including employees who spent significant amounts of time with Lauer as a result of their job duties or having known him for years.”
Though the investigation team states that most witnesses “had positive things to say about Lauer’s demeanor in the workplace” and described him as “a very private person who acted as a friend and professional mentor to both men and women alike,” others pointed out that the newsman often made sexually charged comments and jokes.
“A number of individuals interviewed said that Lauer could be flirtatious, would frequently make jokes, some with sexual overtones, and would openly engage in sexually-oriented banter in the workplace,” according the report. “Several women also credibly described to the investigation team being the subject of what they believed was a sexual overture from Lauer in which he complimented them on their appearance in sexually suggestive ways. According to these women, Lauer did not pursue them further when they deflected or ignored the overture, and they did not experience any retaliation. All these women stated that they did not report this behavior to anyone in a position of authority.”
Back in December, a Today show source told PEOPLE they were shocked by the allegations — but not by rumors of extramarital affairs.
“It was an open secret that Matt and his wife had an unconventional relationship among the staff, but the harassment stuff was surprising,” the source said. “In all the years I worked with him, I never saw behavior like that or heard any reports like that.”
Still, another insider alleged that women who didn’t flirt with him weren’t considered good colleagues, telling PEOPLE in November, “If you were a woman who didn’t seem just utterly charmed by him, or who wasn’t interested in flirting with him, then you were useless to him, and worse, you’d get a target on your back.”
Lauer has not publicly commented on the findings of the investigation. Since being fired, he has been lying low in the Hamptons — and a source close to him recently told PEOPLE that he remains “truly devastated” over the situation that ended his career at the network.
Earlier this week, a source told PEOPLE this week that Lauer and his wife are “barely speaking.” They share three kids together.