This article contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault
After having obtained an advance copy of Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill, Variety released information about Farrow’s “explosive” interview with former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils. The interview provides graphic details about the night when Nevils said that Today Show Host Matt Lauer anally raped her while they were covering the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
Nevils alleged that Lauer had invited her up to his hotel room when she was drunk and pressed her up against the door, kissing her before pushing her onto the bed. There, she said, he flipped her over and asked her if she liked anal sex.
Farrow writes that Nevils “was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he ‘just did it.’” Nevils said the encounter was painful, and she cried into her pillow while it happened.
Nevils told people at NBC about the assault, including her bosses, although for the most part, it did her little good. Farrow explains, “She was made to sit in the same meetings as everyone else, discussing the news, and in all of them colleagues loyal to Lauer cast doubt on the claims, and judgment on her.”
The alleged rape wasn’t the only sexual encounter between Nevils and Lauer, but Nevils explicitly stated that their relationship was tainted by Lauer’s power and influence. Ultimately, former Today Show anchor Meredith Vieira convinced Nevils to come forward with her allegations after Nevils confided in Vieria in 2017.
Later that year, Nevils filed a detailed complaint to NBC who fired Lauer shortly thereafter. The company withheld Nevils’ name and described the allegation vaguely as “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” in an official statement.
However, Farrow reports that while the public may not have known Nevils’ identity until now, it became common knowledge at NBC after chairman Andrew Lack revealed that the assault happened in Sochi, significantly narrowing the field of potential accusers.
Nevils eventually went on “medical leave” and was given a script by NBC studios, which emphasized that she left NBC to “pursue other endeavors” and that NBC “treated her well.” She was also paid a seven-figure sum, though Nevins says she was never interested in the money.
In the aftermath of Lauer’s firing, three more women anonymously came forward with accusations of sexual harassment against him. According to the accusations Lauer exposed himself to female co-workers and gave them sex toys as gifts with explicit notes attached.
Lauer denied Nevils’ allegations in an open letter. He claims that while they did have anal sex one night in Sochi, the encounter was consensual. “There was absolutely nothing aggressive about that encounter,” he wrote. “Brooke did not do or say anything to object. She certainly did not cry.”
On Wednesday, Lauer’s former Today co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb took a moment out of their broadcast to reflect on the news.
“I want to say that I know it wasn’t easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then. It’s not easy now. We support her and any women who have come forward with claims,” Guthrie said.
“You feel like you’ve known someone for twelve years. Then all of the sudden it’s like a door opens up and it’s a part of them you didn’t know,” Kotb added.
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow hits bookstores October 15.
Photo screenshotted from CBS video
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Sophie Hayssen is a blog and newsletter editor at BUST. Her work has appeared in Rookie, Teen Vogue, and Women's Media Center. She is a born-and-raised New Yorker who currently lives in Brooklyn. You can find more of her work here.