In journalist Ronan Farrow's new book Catch and Kill, which recounts much of his investigation into Harvey Weinstein, Farrow published an interview with a former NBC News employee who alleges Matt Lauer raped her during the 2014 Sochi Olympics in his hotel room.
Farrow writes in his book that Brooke Nevils' complaint about Lauer is the one that led to the former Today anchor's firing in 2017. At the time, NBC News kept Nevils' identity anonymous from press reports at her request. But now, more details of her allegations are coming to light.
In the book, Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room in Sochi, Variety reports. She said she was working with former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira, who was brought back to the show for Olympics coverage. One night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar, they ran into Lauer, who joined them.
Nevils, who'd had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer's hotel room twice at the end of the night — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken from her as a joke, and again because he invited her back. Farrow writes that Nevils "had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience."
Nevils alleges that 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."
Nevils was "in the midst of telling him she wasn't interested again when he 'just did it,'" Farrow writes. "Lauer, she said, didn't use lubricant. The encounter was excruciatingly painful. 'It hurt so bad. I remember thinking, 'Is this normal?' She told me she stopped saying no, but wept silently into a pillow."
Lauer then allegedly asked her if she liked it. She told him yes. She claimed to Farrow that "she bled for days."
"It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," Nevils told Farrow. "It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn't want to have anal sex."
After the Olympics — back in New York City — Nevils had more sexual encounters with Lauer. Farrow writes that "sources close to Lauer emphasized that she sometimes initiated contact."
"What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I'd spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her. 'This is what I blame myself most for,'" she says to Farrow. "It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship."
Farrow writes that Nevils said she told "like a million people" about her situation with Lauer. "She told colleagues and superiors at NBC," he writes. She moved to NBC's Peacock Productions to be a producer "and reported it to one of her new bosses there."
"This was no secret," Farrow writes.
But nothing happened until fall 2017, when Farrow's explosive New Yorker story accused Weinstein of multiple assaults and led to the #MeToo reckoning. Nevil's former Today colleagues asked her about Lauer. She said she went to Vieira and told her what happened. Vieira reportedly urged Nevils to go to NBC Universal human resources with a lawyer, which she did.
"Nevils' work like became torture," Farrow writes. "She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them collages loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her."
Although Nevils had been promised anonymity by human resources, Andrew Lack — the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC — said internally that the encounter had happened at Sochi, which limited the possibilities of complainants.
Though Nevils had not wanted money, she went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid "seven figures," Farrow writes.
Farrow, who was then an employee of NBC News, was told by the news organization to stop his reporting on Weinstein. Noah Oppenheim, the president of NBC News, reportedly asked him, "Like, is this really worth it?" and suggested no one knows who Weinstein is. Eventually, he was told to stop reporting the story because it was under review at NBC Universal. Because he didn't believe NBC would ever run the story, he took it to the New Yorker, where it was published in October 2017, kickstarting the massive movement.0comments
Catch and Kill hits bookshelves on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Photo credit: NBC / Contributor / Getty