Meredith Vieira worked with Matt Lauer for five years on the Today show — and played an important part in bringing the allegations of sexual assault against him to light

By Maria Pasquini Charlotte Triggs
October 10, 2019 08:07 PM

Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira had a close relationship throughout their years working on Today together, but that changed in the wake of the allegations that led to his firing in 2017.

“Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira never spoke again since his firing,” a source tells PEOPLE.

Vieira, 65, who worked alongside Lauer for five years before leaving Today in 2011, played an important part in bringing allegations of sexual assault against her co-anchor to light.

Ronan Farrow’s upcoming book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators includes an interview with Vieira’s former assistant and NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, who claims Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, an allegation which Lauer has denied.

Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty; Noam Galai/WireImage

According to Variety, which published an excerpt from the book, Nevils ultimately decided to report the allegation with Vieira’s encouragement.

While Nevils said several people knew of her relationship with Lauer, she didn’t disclose the full details or escalate the situation until she confided in Vieira — who immediately told her to take action, according to Farrow’s excerpt.

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 reported. After Lauer was fired, Nevils went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid “seven figures,” Farrow writes, according to the outlet.

RELATED: Matt Lauer Accuser Addie Zinone Slams His ‘Attempts to Slut-Shame and Rewrite History’

In response to the allegation, Lenner penned a lengthy letter to Variety, claiming that the encounter in Sochi was the beginning of his affair with Nevils, calling it “extramarital, but consensual.”

“At no time, during or after her multiple visits to my apartment, did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there, or with our affair,” he said. “She also went out of her way to see me several times in my dressing room at work, and on one of those occasions, we had a sexual encounter. It showed terrible judgment on my part, but it was completely mutual and consensual.”

Lauer concluded by stating that he has “never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period.”

Matt Lauer
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Nevils went on to slam Lauer’s open letter later, calling it a “case study in victim shaming.”

“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,” Nevils said on a statement that aired on Wednesday’s episode of NBC Nightly News.

“I am not afraid of him now,” Nevils added. “Regardless of his threats, bullying, and the shaming and predatory tactics I knew he would (and now has) tried to use against me.”

RELATED: Matt Lauer ‘Believes He Is Innocent’ and ‘Feels Angry’ About Rape Allegation, Source Says

Vieira opened up to PEOPLE last month about learning the news of Lauer’s firing, calling the moment “like a gut punch.”

“I was [in L.A.] and my phone started going off at 4 a.m,” she said. “I didn’t know what to make of all of it. It was a shock.”

Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira
Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire/Getty

She said the news was especially painful given her close relationship with her former colleague.

“Matt and I were very close,” said Vieira. “He was very kind to me. We both have similar senses of humor. We’re both sarcastic.”

As for the state of her relationship with Lauer at the time of the interview, Vieira said, “It’s so complicated.”

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.

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