The woman accusing Matt Lauer of rape told NBC officials in November 2017 that she did not consent the first time they had sex, according to a copy of Ronan Farrow’s forthcoming book, “Catch and Kill,” obtained by VICE News.
Brooke Nevils did not use the word “rape” in describing the encounter with Lauer in a Sochi hotel room while the two NBC employees were on assignment covering the 2014 Olympics. But she “described one, unambiguously” in a meeting with two representatives from NBC and her lawyer, Farrow reports.
“She described the incident in detail, making it clear that she’d been too drunk to consent and that she’d said no to Lauer’s request for anal sex repeatedly,” Farrow writes. “Her attorney, Ari Wilkenfeld, paused the proceedings at one point to reiterate that the interaction was not consensual.”
What NBC News officials knew about the relationship, and when, has become a central question swirling around Farrow’s explosive investigation, which has exposed a culture of abuse at the highest levels of the media and entertainment industries. Nevils’ rape allegation became public when early excerpts of Farrow’s book began dribbling out this week.
Lauer denied the claim in a letter published by Variety on Wednesday that describes the relationship as an affair. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense,” Lauer wrote. He added that he “was never told that Brooke claimed our encounter in Sochi was non-consensual.”
Top NBC brass have vehemently denied that they knew of Lauer’s behavior before Nevils’ 2017 complaint, defending their characterizations of the network star’s relationship with a junior staffer.
“Today, some have questioned why we used the term ‘sexual misconduct’ to describe the reason for Lauer’s firing in the days following,” Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News, wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday. “We chose those words carefully to precisely mirror the public words at that time of the attorney representing our former NBC colleague.”
Wilkenfeld, Nevils’ attorney, said after Lauer’s firing that she had detailed “egregious acts of sexual harassment and misconduct.”
Nevils told Farrow that she discussed Lauer with numerous associates inside and outside of NBC before she filed a formal complaint. His book recounts the November 2017 meeting where she shared her story with two women from NBCUniversal, one of whom Farrow identifies as top lawyer Stephanie Franco.
After Nevils and her attorney described non-consensual sex, Farrow writes, “[o]ne of the representatives from NBC replied that they understood, though later the network would say that it had reached no official conclusion on the matter.”
NBC representatives did not respond to VICE News’ question of whether the potentially criminal nature of Nevils’ allegation was relayed to Lack and NBC News President Noah Oppenheim.
Wilkenfeld didn’t immediately return VICE News’ messages on Friday. While Nevils called Lauer’s letter “a case study in victim-blaming” in a statement to NBC News Thursday, she’s barred from speaking about the company’s handling of her case by a highly restrictive nondisclosure agreement she signed as part of her exit earlier this year.
Nevils told Farrow that she bled for days following her late-night encounter with Lauer. But her psychological trauma continued long after Lauer’s firing.
When she learned that NBC was publicly highlighting that her allegation was not criminal in nature, Farrow writes, “she left her desk, walked to the nearest bathroom, and threw up.”
Cover: Matt Lauer faces new allegations of sexual misconduct as detailed accusations surface from NBC colleagues. - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2013 5/31/13 Matt Lauer on the set of The Today Show. (NYC)