"What I found when I read the book was frankly shocking, and it should concern anyone who cares about journalism," Matt Lauer said of Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

By Robyn Merrett
May 19, 2020 08:59 PM
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Matt Lauer is claiming he was "falsely accused of rape" and is slamming Ronan Farrow's reporting in the best-selling book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.

In a lengthy op-ed for Mediate published Tuesday, Lauer acknowledged "having a consensual, yet inappropriate relationship with a fellow employee in the workplace."

"I say these words with sincerity and humility," he wrote. "I am sorry for the way I conducted myself. I made some terrible decisions, and I betrayed the trust of many people."

But he denied former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils' allegation, in Catch and Kill, that he raped her.

"This accusation was one of the worst and most consequential things to ever happen in my life, it was devastating for my family, and outrageously it was used to sell books," he said.

Nevils alleged in Farrow's book that at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room. "It was non-consensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she told Farrow in Catch and Kill. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.” (She also said in the book that she had more sexual encounters with Lauer back in New York City, telling Farrow: “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.")

Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow
| Credit: Brian Killian/FilmMagic;Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

In November 2017, Lauer was fired from NBC due to a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace." At the time, Nevils’ identity was kept anonymous at her request. Farrow's book, released on Oct. 15, 2019, was the first time the full details of her allegations were made public.

"At no time did Brooke Nevils ever use the words 'assault' or 'rape' in regards to any accusation against me while filing her complaint with NBC in November of 2017. That has been confirmed publicly. NBC never suggested I was being accused of such an offense when I met with their attorney on Nov. 28 of that same year. They have also confirmed that publicly," Lauer wrote in his op-ed.

"I was shaken, but not surprised, that few in the media were willing to thoroughly challenge the accusations against me, or the person making them. The rush to judgement was swift. In fact, on the morning I was falsely accused of rape, and before I could even issue a statement, some journalist were already calling my accuser 'brave' and courageous.' While the presumption of innocence is only guaranteed in a court of law, I felt journalists should have, at the very least, recognized and considered it," Lauer continued.

"I was also disappointed, but not surprised, that Ronan Farrow's overall reporting faced so little scrutiny. Until this week's critical reporting by The New York Times, many in the media perceived his work as inherently beyond basic questioning," said Lauer.

Representatives for NBC, Farrow, Nevils and the publisher of Catch and Kill did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

In response to Lauer's op-ed, Farrow tweeted: "All I'll say on this is that Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself."

Nevils also spoke out on Twitter, writing, "DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender."

Lauer explained earlier in his op-ed that The New York Times piece, which criticized Farrow's reporting and fact-checking methods, prompted him to "move forward with my own findings."

Matt Lauer
| Credit: Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic

Farrow responded to The Times article, tweeting, "I stand by my reporting."

In his op-ed, Lauer claimed that Farrow did not properly fact-check certain allegations and accusations.

"I believe Ronan knew his work on Catch and Kill would receive little in the way of scrutiny, from the very beginning. It's the only way to explain why he was so willing to abandon common sense and true fact checking in favor of salacious, and deeply flawed, material," Lauer wrote.

He explained that he tracked down three people who should have been contemporaneous witnesses for Nevils' account and fact-checked the story himself.

Farrow wrote that Nevils said she cried to the man she was dating, who was working in the control room that day, after being allegedly sexually assaulted by Lauer in his dressing room.

"She says she came to my dressing room to get some photos and as she leaned over my desk, she alleges I sexually assaulted her with my hands," Lauer wrote. "This story, as told in the book, is graphic, disturbing and false. It's another example of Ronan failing to confirm a critical claim."

Lauer wrote that Farrow never reached out to that man to corroborate Nevils' claim.

RELATED: Matt Lauer's Rape Accuser Brooke Nevils Slams His Open Letter as a 'Case Study in Victim Shaming'

"Did he write that he reached out to that 'new guy she'd started seeing' to make sure the story was accurate? Did he ask that 'new guy' to share what he heard from Brooke when she allegedly came crying to him in the control room that morning? He did not. How do I know that? Because I did. I called that 'new guy' myself and we spoke by phone for the better part of two hours. He was very upset at being referenced, even indirectly, in the book but he was worried that he would face criticism if he spoke out," Lauer said.

"He told me that Brooke did not come crying to see him in the control room to discuss any story of an assault involving me. It didn't happen. In fact, that 'new guy' in Brooke's life told me that he wouldn't have even been in the control room, at the time of day," Lauer wrote.

"The questions I've posed here are both professional and deeply personal. I ask people to consider how they would react if someone they loved were accused of something horrific and basic journalistic standards were ignored because of a desire to sell books," he continued.

In Catch and Kill, Farrow wrote that Nevils was hospitalized for post-traumatic stress disorder and attempted suicide after the alleged assault. "I’ve lost everything I cared about,” she said in the book. "My job. My goals."

She also called Lauer's October 2019 open letter describing their relationship as consensual and denying the alleged rape a "case study in victim-shaming."

Since his firing, Lauer has maintained a low profile in the Hamptons and finalized a divorce from his longtime wife, Annette Roque.

“He’s angry about what he sees as the media’s unfair treatment of him, and hasn’t been taking things well,” a source told PEOPLE last fall, two years after his termination from NBC. “He had done a lot of work to repair his relationships with his kids and they’ve been sticking by him.”

“He went from being the biggest deal and being able to do whatever he wanted to being an outcast and it’s been a bitter pill to swallow,” the source continued.

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.