Former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils alleges that Matt Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics

By Aurelie Corinthios
Updated October 10, 2019 10:38 AM
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Journalist Ronan Farrow has unearthed an explosive new allegation against Matt Lauer almost two years after his shocking firing from the Today show.

In 2017, NBC received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior,” with reason to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident” — and in the wake of the announcement, several more allegations were brought against the longtime anchor.

And in Variety‘s new excerpt of Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (out Oct. 15), Farrow interviews former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, who comes forward to allege that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

A rep for Lauer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. However, Lauer denied any wrongdoing in a statement to Variety, saying he had an “extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter” with Nevils.

Amid Nevils’ new account of the alleged assault, here is a look back at how the scandal unfolded.

NOV. 27 2017

At 6 p.m., Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson in Washington, and his client, an anonymous NBC employee, met with representatives from NBC’s human resources and legal departments to detail a complaint against Lauer. The interview lasted several hours, Wilkenfeld confirmed to The New York Times.

“Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace,” he said.

The Times met with the woman Monday afternoon, but she told the newspaper she was not ready to come forward and tell her story publicly.

NOV. 28, 2017

An investigation ensued, and a decision was made to end his employment. A source confirmed to PEOPLE that Lauer, 59, was informed of his termination on Tuesday evening.

NOV. 29, 2017

Today employees found out about Lauer’s firing just hours before going live for Wednesday’s show. At the top of the 7 a.m. hour, Lauer’s visibly shaken co-anchor Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb announced the news, reading aloud a staff memo from NBC News chairman Andrew Lack.

“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Lack said. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” he continued. “We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, [Today show executive producer] Noah [Oppenheimer] and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.”

A source later confirmed to PEOPLE that Lauer’s involvement with the woman who made the complaint included while they were in Sochi, Russia, to cover the Winter Olympics in 2014. We now know this woman is Nevils.

The complaint was “serious enough that he was terminated,” the source said. “The accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace occurring throughout 2014.”

Another source told PEOPLE the complaint came as a complete shock to Lauer.

“In his mind, this had been a consensual affair,” the source said. “And a long-term one at that.” (In the wake of his firing, several insiders have told PEOPLE that the veteran morning host was allegedly often unfaithful to his wife, Annette Roque, with whom he shares three children: son Jack, 16, daughter Romy, 14, and son Thijs, 11. Lauer’s reps did not comment.)

“He was shocked and dumbfounded and completely bewildered by what happened,” the source said. “He never thought it would get to this level. He never expected this. He had felt like he was invulnerable — like Superman.”

RELATED VIDEO: Matt Lauer’s Ex-Wife Says She Supports Him ‘One Hundred Percent’ in Wake of Firing

More allegations were brought against him throughout the day in new reports published by Variety and The New York Times.

The most serious allegation was brought forth in the Times, which reports that NBC received at least two more complaints related to Lauer on Wednesday. One complaint came from a former NBC employee who alleged Lauer sexually assaulted her in his office in 2001. She provided her account to the newspaper but declined to let her name be used. Details of the second complaint have not been made public thus far.

The former employee, who told the Times Lauer had been making “inappropriate comments” to her since she started as a Today producer in the late 1990s, alleges that in 2001, Lauer summoned her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, he allegedly locked the door and asked her to unbutton her shirt, which she did. She claims he then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair and had intercourse with her. She allegedly passed out with her pants halfway down and woke up on the floor of his office, and she claims Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse, according to the Times.

The woman told the Times that Lauer never made an advance toward her again and never mentioned what occurred in his office. She said she did not report the episode to NBC at the time because she believed she should have done more to stop Lauer. She left the network about a year later.

The woman, who was in her early 40s at the time, told her then-husband about the encounter, which the Times confirmed with him in a phone call. The couple was separated at the time, and later divorced. She also described it to a friend five years ago, which the friend confirmed to the Times.

According to the newspaper, the alleged incident was reported to NBC News on Wednesday after the the woman told her then-supervisor, who still works at the network, about it. The woman said an NBC human resources representative had since contacted her.

In the Variety report, three anonymous women accused Lauer of sexual harassment, claiming he once brought a female employee into this office “and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis.” Lauer then allegedly “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.” He also allegedly gave a female colleague a sex toy as a present, including “an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her.”

In response to the Wednesday reports, an NBC spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement, “We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct.”

NBC correspondent Stephanie Gosk, who has been reporting on the story for the Today show, said during Megyn Kelly‘s hour on Thursday that while there are “as many as eight” Lauer accusers, their anonymity makes it impossible to distinguish between them.

“Because they’re anonymous, we don’t know if any of the people who spoke to Variety also spoke to the New York Times, or also the two people that we know came forward to NBC after Matt was fired yesterday — we don’t know if any of them are the same women, so it’s as many as eight,” she said. “And let me just say, hearing those details about anybody is difficult — hearing them about someone you know is especially difficult and all of us here at NBC are grappling with that.”

Gosk also made a point to mention that the 2001 assault allegation against Lauer “elevates the accusation considerably.”

“An assault is a crime,” she said. “We have reached out to New York City police, we have reached out to police departments in Long Island. We know of no open criminal investigation against Matt Lauer.” (PEOPLE also reached out to the NYPD, who said they are not investigating any complaints against Lauer at this time.)

NOV. 30, 2017

Lauer — who joined the network in 1992 as a newsreader on Today, had been co-anchor of the morning show since January 1997 and reportedly signed a $20 million dollar contract last year — broke his silence on the allegations in a statement read Thursday morning by his former colleagues on-air.

“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.”

“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly,” he continued. “Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”

DEC. 14, 2017

Former Today show staff member Addie Zinone (née Collins) wrote a piece for Variety detailing an alleged month-long affair with Lauer in 2000, when she was a 24-year-old production assistant about to leave NBC News and he was newly married.

Lauer’s representatives did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic. He knew that I was leaving, and that there was no better prey than somebody who is going to be gone. He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns,” said Zinone, who added that Lauer, “felt like he was untouchable.”

JULY 9, 2019

Roque officially filed for divorce from Lauer in Suffolk County, New York.

“The case, which is an uncontested matrimonial, was filed on July 9th in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, New York and is awaiting judicial review of the agreement,” Lucian Chalfen, director of public information for the New York State Unified Court System, told PEOPLE.. “Upon a judge’s signature, it will be sent to the court clerk’s office to be entered. The process could take up to a few months.”

Roque’s attorney John Teitler tells PEOPLE, “The matter has been settled.”

SEPT. 6, 2019

PEOPLE reported that Lauer and Roque’s divorce has been finalized.

“They are both focused on their three children,” one source close to Lauer said.

OCT. 8, 2019

Variety published an excerpt from Farrow’s book in which Nevils says 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, Nevils alleges, according to Variety, Lauer kissed her, then pushed her onto the bed and asked if she liked anal sex. Farrow writes that Nevils said she “declined several times,” Variety reports, 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.”

PEOPLE is out to reps for Vieira and Farrow.

OCT. 9, 2019

Lauer denied raping Nevils in a lengthy letter to Variety.

“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.”

PEOPLE is out to Nevils for comment.

Lauer continued: “The story Brooke tells is filled with false details intended only to create the impression this was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter. Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner. At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do. The only concern she expressed was that someone might see her leaving my room. She embraced me at the door as she left.”

Lauer acknowledged that the encounter was the beginning of his affair with Nevils and “the first of many sexual encounters between us over the next several months.”

“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.”

“Brooke now says that she was terrified about the control I had over her career and felt pressure to agree to our encounters after Sochi. But at no time during our relationship did Brooke work for me, the Today Show, or NBC News,” he continued. “She worked for Meredith Vieira (who had not worked for the Today Show in several years) in a completely different part of the network, and I had no role in reviewing Brooke’s work.”