Tom Brokaw Accused of Sexual Harassment by Former NBC Correspondent

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw has been accused of sexual harassment by a former NBC correspondent, Variety reports.

Linda Vester said in an exclusive series of interviews with Variety conducted over several months that the legendary news anchor physically tried to force her to kiss him on two separate occasions. She also claims Brokaw also groped her in a conference room and showed up at her hotel room uninvited.

Brokaw, who has been married to Meredith Auld since 1962 and never before been publicly accused of sexual harassment, denied Vester's allegations.

"I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC," he said in a statement issued by NBC. "The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other."

Vester, who was 28 at the time, claims Brokaw once invited himself to her hotel room in New York City. "I felt powerless to say no," she said. "He could ruin my career."

At one point, she said, Brokaw put his hand behind her neck and gripped her head.

"Now let me show you how to give a real kiss," he said, in Vester's recollection, and jerked her head toward him. She remembers tensing her neck muscles and using all her strength to wriggle free and stand up. She wrote, "I said 'Tom . . . I don't want to do that with you."

Brokaw sat silent for a few minutes, then finally said, "I think I should go." Vester nodded vigorously.

Vester said he tried to make the interaction seem consensual when they spoke the next day. Vester disagreed and later met with another friend who corroborated in an interview that Vester was "rattled" by the episode and "disappointed" in Brokaw.

Vester, who who later worked at Fox News and left the business, said she fended off Brokaw's advances during a second incident in London.

She says she did not report Brokaw's conduct to the police or NBC because she feared it would end her career. Vester said she's speaking out now to shed light on what she believes is a male culture at NBC News that treats female colleagues as objects.

Another woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that Brokaw acted inappropriately toward her in the 1990s, when she was a young production assistant and he was an anchor. He claims no such incident happened.

The accusations follow the termination of Matt Lauer, a two-decade veteran of the TODAY Show, in November after a complaint was filed against him for inappropriate sexual behavior at work that reportedly occurred during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

"What Linda is doing, like others before her have done, is to give her truthful account in the hope that other women will not have to endure what she did," says Ari Wilkenfeld, her attorney, who also represented one of the victims of Lauer's sexual harassment.

"Linda is literally seeking nothing for herself. She comes forward at her own expense and at her own peril. By her being willing to go on the record, perhaps this will embolden other brave women to tell their stories."

NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack called the accusations against Lauer a "clear violation of our company's standards."

Lauer, the longest-running morning show anchor, exited TODAY as the highest paid morning show personality with an annual salary of $25 million.

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Brokaw helped anchor the network's coverage as recently as April 21, during Barbara Bush's funeral, and was also part of NBC News' coverage team for the State of the Union address this year.

He joined NBC News in 1966 anchoring the 11 p.m. news for KNBC. He anchored NBC Nightly News from 1982 until his retirement in 2004. During the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, he became known as one of the "Big Three" news anchors in the U.S., becoming the only person to have hosted all three major NBC News programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and Meet the Press.