Brooke Nevils says Matt Lauer is victim-blaming; second accuser calls his words 'triggering'
Hannah Yasharoff USA TODAY
Published 6:34 PM EDT Oct 10, 2019
Brooke Nevils, the previously unnamed former NBC News employee whose 2017 complaint led to Matt Lauer getting fired from his job on the "Today" show nearly two years ago, is standing her ground after coming forward with a new rape allegation, calling Lauer's response a "case study in victim blaming."
Variety reported late Tuesday that Ronan Farrow's Oct. 15 book "Catch and Kill" reveals a new allegation from Nevils. Variety reports that the book includes a claim he raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In a lengthy letter provided by his lawyer to Variety, Lauer denied the allegations and painted the picture of an accusation full of contradictions. He said he has shied away until now from speaking out on the "false and salacious allegations" against him to protect his children.
"I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period," Lauer wrote. "My silence has been a mistake. Old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say 'enough.'"
Nevils broke her silence with a tweet Wednesday thanking supporters and survivors who shared their own stories with her. In a statement to USA TODAY, she said she asked NBC to thoroughly investigate her allegations and to give Lauer "the opportunity to defend himself." She also said she provided "dates, times, evidence of communications and corroborating accounts" to back up her accusations and "both NBC and Farrow found me credible."
She continued: "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. His open letter was a case study in victim blaming. … I am not afraid of him now, regardless of his threats, bullying, and the shaming and predatory tactics I knew he would (and now has) tried to use against me.
"The shame in this story belongs to him," Nevils concluded.
In a statement Wednesday night to People, the lawyer for Lauer's ex-wife, Annette Roque, said now that the two are officially divorced, "her priority and only concern is for their wonderful children," John M. Teitler wrote. "Our client will make no further statements."
Former "Today" production assistant Addie Zinone described Lauer's defense as "particularly triggering for me and so many others" in a statement issued to USA TODAY Thursday.
In 2017, Zinone accused Lauer of sexual misconduct, saying she felt like "prey" and that her affair with Lauer had a devastating and lasting effect on her life, though it was consensual.
More: Matt Lauer scandal: Lawyer for accuser blasts NBC, ex-intern describes predatory affair
"It is troubling that he has no understanding of, or empathy for the pain he has inflicted with his brazen and predatory abuse of power on young, vulnerable women who had no voice," she said in her latest statement. "It cost him his career; his reputation. He will live with that forever. To be sure, so will we. Journalists are tasked with exposing this behavior, not perpetuating it. Power corrupts and he is not immune."
After addressing the new allegations in a somber segment Wednesday morning, "Today" co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on Thursday introduced a news package about the latest developments, but veered away from making any new comments themselves.
Matt Lauer: Ex-'Today' host denies new rape allegation
Linda Vester, the former NBC correspondent who in 2018 accused Tom Brokaw of making unwanted advances toward her in the 1990s, wrote an op-ed for The Daily Beast slamming Lauer for writing "an open letter that takes victim-shaming to a depth I have never seen before." (Brokaw denied the reports that he made unwanted advances toward Vester in statements to The Washington Post and Variety.)
Vester defended Nevils in the op-ed: "While technically an adult, she was no match for his advanced years and extraordinary power at the network. What he did to her was profoundly confusing and traumatizing to her, and afterward she behaved in ways that some may find confusing."
Vester accused Lauer of using tactics employed by predators to silence Nevils, and added that "his words are intended to harm and silence women. They are the rantings of a self-absorbed coward who has yet to take true responsibility for what he has done.
On Wednesday, Guthrie and Kotb (who has permanently replaced Lauer) expressed to viewers that NBC staff members are "disturbed to our core" and working to process the latest revelations, which come nearly two years after Guthrie announced at the top of the show on Nov. 29, 2017, that Lauer, an NBC morning anchor since 1997, had been fired over sexual harassment allegations.
"I feel like we owe it to our viewers to pause for a moment," Guthrie said, noticeably emotional. "This is shocking and appalling. I honestly don't even know what to say about it. I want to say I know it wasn't easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then, it's not easy now and we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. And it's just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the 'Today' show. It's very, very, very difficult."
Former "Today" journalist Ann Curry tweeted her support of Nevils Wednesday afternoon, saying she is "is a credible young woman of good character. She came to NBC News an eager and guileless 20-something, brimming with talent. I believe she is telling the truth. And that breaks my heart."
Representatives for Lauer and Nevils did not immediately return USA TODAY's requests for further comment.
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Contributing: Charles Trepany
She wants to attack Lauer, and he not do anything about it.
Bout time he started fighting back.
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