Matt Lauer Says He's Taking a 'Very Hard Look at My Own Troubling Flaws' After Firing
"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions," said Matt Lauer in a statement read on Today
Hoda Kotb — who was filling in for Lauer — said it was a “difficult morning here again,” though she and Guthrie appeared more somber and composed compared to Wednesday’s show when they revealed their co-anchor had been fired. Guthrie started the show by reading a statement they received from the former newsman moments before going on air.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” Lauer said in the statement obtained by PEOPLE. “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.”
“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.”
NBC announced early Wednesday that Lauer, 59, had been fired after the network received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior” on Monday, with reason to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident.”
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.
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A source told PEOPLE that Lauer was let go due to alleged inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
In a report published Wednesday afternoon by Variety, three anonymous women accused the former newsman of sexual harassment, claiming Lauer had 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.”
A former NBC employee – who spoke to the The New York Times on condition of anonymity – also came forward, saying that Lauer sexually assaulted her in 2001. According to the publication, Lauer had been making “inappropriate comments” to her after she started working at the media company in the late 1990s.
When he asked her into his office in 2001, Lauer allegedly proceeded to ask her to unbutton her shirt, which she did. She claims he then pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair and proceeded to have intercourse with her. The unidentified woman claims she blacked out with her pants halfway down and that she woke up on the floor to Lauer asking his assistant to take her to a nurse, according to the Times.
Lauer, who is a father of three, also allegedly gave a female colleague a sex toy as a present.
His wife of 19 years, Dutch model Annette Roque, filed for divorce in 2006 but then withdrew the papers three weeks later.
“He regularly cheated on his wife,” one source tells PEOPLE. “Everyone knew. His wife lives in the Hamptons and he lives in the city, but we never heard he made unwanted moves.”
Now, another insider says, “His family is his focus at the moment.”