Today show viewers may have been shocked by Matt Lauer's firing this week for inappropriate sexual behavior, but perhaps no one was as surprised by the news as Lauer, according to PEOPLE.
A source with knowledge of the former anchor's firing said Lauer "was shocked and dumbfounded and completely bewildered by what happened."
"He never expected this. He had felt like he was invulnerable — like Superman," the source added.
The same insider also told the publication that Lauer did not see the instance of sexual misconduct that led to his firing in the same way as his unnamed alleged victim. In fact, "in [Lauer’s] mind, this had been a consensual affair. And a long-term one at that."
"He was totally devastated," the source said of Lauer. "He never thought it would get to this level."
"People who worked with him found him to be flirtatious, but that doesn’t mean he was necessarily inappropriate," the source added.
Lauer's co-host Savannah Guthrie broke the news of Lauer's firing at the top of Wednesday's Today show. NBC News chairman Andy Lack said that the "detailed" complaint filed against Lauer gave the network "reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident."
Hours after the news of Lauer's firing hit, Variety published a report detailing multiple accounts of sexual misconduct from current and former female colleagues of Lauer, ranging from accusations of sexting or buying adult toys to graphic sexual assault.
An insider with knowledge of some aspects of the situation previously told PEOPLE that "there was most definitely more than one" affair and alleged that "they were never with anyone whom [Lauer] didn’t have significant seniority over."
NBC confirmed that two more women filed complaints with the network against Lauer after his firing.
On Thursday, Lauer's ex-wife, Nancy Alspaugh, who he was married to from 1981 to 1988, told PEOPLE that she is supportive of her ex-husband "one hundred percent." Lauer is currently married to former Dutch model Annette Roque, with whom he shares three children.
Lauer released a statement on Thursday concerning the allegations.
“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. “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.”