Matt Lauer’s Ex-Wife Annette Roque Breaks Her Silence on Rape Allegation
Annette Roque is speaking out through her attorney for the first time since ex-husband Matt Lauer was accused of sexual assault in 2017
A day after Lauer, 61, was accused of rape by his former NBC News colleague Brooke Nevils in an excerpt of Ronan Farrow‘s new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, out Oct. 15, Roque broke her silence in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.
“In response to your inquiry, our client has asked us to tell you that now that the parties are officially divorced, her priority and only concern is for their wonderful children,” Roque’s lawyer John M. Teitler said. “Our client will make no further statements.”
Lauer penned a lengthy letter in response to the allegation, claiming the encounter was “extramarital, but consensual.”
In early September, Lauer and Roque finalized their divorce after over 20 years of marriage, multiple sources confirmed to PEOPLE. “It’s final. They are both focused on their three children,” one source close to Lauer told PEOPLE at the time.
Roque’s statement on Wednesday comes in response to the explosive new rape allegation brought against her ex-husband.
According to Variety, in Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, Farrow interviews Nevils, whose complaint about Lauer prompted his Today show firing in November 2017. At the time, Nevils’ identity was kept anonymous at her request; this is the first time the full details of her allegations have been made public.
Nevils alleges in the book, according to Variety, that at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room.
In Nevils’ account, according to Variety, she was tasked in Sochi with working with former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who’d been brought back to the show to do Olympics coverage, and they ran into Lauer at the hotel bar one night.
At the end of the night, Nevils, who’d had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer’s hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back, she says in the book, according to Variety.
Once she was in his hotel room, Lauer kissed her, then pushed her onto the bed and asked if she liked anal sex, Nevils alleges, according to Variety. Farrow writes that Nevils said she “declined several times,” but he allegedly “just did it” and didn’t use lubricant. Nevils reportedly claims the encounter was painful and that she “bled for days.”
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she reportedly tells Farrow in the book. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Nevils says in the book that she had more sexual encounters with Lauer back in New York City, according to Variety, telling Farrow: “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
At Vieira’s urging, Nevils reported her ordeal to NBC executives in the fall of 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Variety reports. Lauer was fired, Nevils went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid, Farrow writes, according to Variety, “seven figures.”
In a statement read on-air Wednesday on the Today show, NBC News said, “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
“In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense,” he said. “I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual,” he said in part.
At the time of Lauer’s firing, a source told PEOPLE that he was let go due to sexual misconduct throughout 2014 with the woman who made the complaint, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Another source with knowledge of the situation said Lauer had viewed this relationship as “consensual” and was “dumbfounded” by the accusation.
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.