Meredith Vieira played an important part in bringing the allegations of sexual assault against her former Today co-anchor Matt Lauer to light.
Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators includes an interview with Vieira’s former assistant and NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, whose complaint about Lauer led to his firing in November 2017.
According to Variety, Nevils ultimately decided to report the allegation with Vieira’s encouragement.
In the book, Nevils claims Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while working for Vieira at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Lauer, 61, allegedly pushed Nevils against a door and kissed her before moving to the bed and “flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,” Farrow wrote, according to Variety. “She said that she declined several times.”
She “was in the midst of telling him she wasn’t interested again when he ‘just did it,’ ” Farrow wrote. “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.”
Nevils says in the book that she had more sexual encounters with Lauer back in New York City, according to Variety, telling Farrow: “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
And while Nevils said several people knew of her relationship with Lauer, she didn’t disclose the full details or escalate the situation until she confided in Vieira — who immediately told her to take action, according to Farrow’s excerpt.
At Vieira’s urging, Nevils reported her ordeal to NBC executives in the fall of 2017, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Variety reports. Lauer was fired, Nevils went on medical leave in 2018 and was eventually paid “seven figures,” Farrow writes, according to Variety.
PEOPLE is out to reps for Vieira and Farrow.
In a lengthy statement to Variety, Lauer denied any wrongdoing, saying he had an “extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter” with Nevils.
In a statement read on-air Wednesday on the Today show, NBC News said, “Matt Lauer’s conduct was appalling, horrific and reprehensible, as we said at the time. That’s why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague.”
Vieira recently opened to PEOPLE about learning the news of Lauer’s firing, calling the moment “like a gut punch.”
“I was [in L.A.] and my phone started going off at 4 a.m,” she said. “I didn’t know what to make of all of it. It was a shock.”
She said the news was especially painful given her close relationship with her former colleague, with whom she had worked for five years.
“Matt and I were very close,” says Vieira. “He was very kind to me. We both have similar senses of humor. We’re both sarcastic.”
“The whole thing is just sad,” she added. “And it’s been rough in a lot of places with a lot of people.”
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.
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