NBC News, TODAY show address Matt Lauer rape allegations

Former coworker goes public with rape allegations in new book

Matt Lauer (NBC)

NBC News and the TODAY Show spent time Wednesday morning addressing new sexual assault claims against former host Matt Lauer.

NEW: Matt Lauer calls rape allegation false, says it was consensual affair in letter to Variety

According to reports, in Ronan Farrow's soon-to-be-released "Catch and Kill" book, former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils accuses Lauer of raping her in a hotel room in 2014 when the TV crew was in Sochi for the Olympic games.

Lauer was fired from his position in 2017 after 20 years with NBC News. At the time, the network said Lauer was fired after they received a "detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace."

On Wednesday morning, NBC News released this statement on the accusations in Farrow's book:

"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."

TODAY Show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb offered their comments during the show Wednesday morning.

"These are not allegations of an affair, these are allegations of a crime," said Kotb. "And I think that's shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. I think we're going to sort of continue to process this part of this horrific story, and ... our thoughts are with Brooke. It's not easy what she did, to come forward, it's not easy at all."

Guthrie said they are disturbed "to our core."

"We have a commitment to keep you informed, and we will continue to do that," said Guthrie.

Kotb officially replaced Lauer in January 2018.

"This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made," Guthrie said while celebrating the news on "Today."

"There's no one I'd rather be sitting next to in 2018 than you," Kotb said.

What's in 'Catch and Kill' book

Variety got a copy of the book and was first to report the detailed rape claim against Lauer:

In Sochi, Nevils was tasked with working with former "Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who'd been brought back to the show to do Olympics coverage. In her account, one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. 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. Nevils, Farrow writes, "had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience."

Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, Lauer — who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers — pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, "flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex," Farrow writes. "She said that she declined several times."

Read more here.

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