Ronan Farrow’s new book, Catch and Kill, which chronicles the reporter’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct, also includes new details, including allegations of rape against former NBC host Matt Lauer, according to Variety, which got a sneak peek at the forthcoming book. Farrow’s account includes a new interview with former NBC News employee Brooke Nevils, who alleges Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while in Russia to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
It was Nevils’ complaint that led to Lauer’s 2017 firing from the Today show, but her identity—and some of the details of the allegation—were not previously known to the public. Farrow outlines Nevils’ account of the night in Sochi where she was assigned to work with former Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira. After a night of drinking at the hotel bar, Nevils says she went to Lauer’s hotel room to pick up her press credential, and then returned when Lauer invited her back shortly after. Nevils told Farrow she “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.”
Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, 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.”
According to Nevils, she “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 asked her if she liked it. She tells him yes. She claims that “she bled for days,” Farrow writes.
Nevils tells Farrow: “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she says. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
After the incident, Nevils says she had other “transactional” sexual encounters with Lauer—she said she was terrified he would end her career. Farrow writes that Nevils is not alone in continuing to have a sexual relationship with the former NBC star, even after enduring incidents of sexual assault. Nevils said she told “like a million people” about her encounters with Lauer, including colleagues and superiors at NBC. In the fall of 2017, at Viera’s urging, Nevils went to NBCUniversal human resources with her complaint, which led to Lauer’s dismissal.
Farrow writes that NBC executives continued to downplay the allegations internally even after Lauer’s firing and were generally obstructive throughout the Weinstein reporting process, prompting him to take the explosive story to the New Yorker.
Matt Lauer has denied the allegations, telling Variety in an open letter, “In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense.”
Update, Oct. 9, 2019, at 12:14 p.m.: This post has been updated to include Lauer’s denial of the allegations.