In the five months since his initial apology after he was let go from Today for what parent network NBC tactfully characterized as “inappropriate sexual behavior”—Variety published a report with all the creepy details, if you’re inclined to read them—Matt Lauer has kept out of the public eye, allowing his former co-host Ann Curry to collect her long-overdue apologies in peace.
Now, however, Lauer has made a statement in response to a new Washington Post story about NBC’s lack of followup in fixing its, in Curry’s words, culture of “pervasive verbal sexual harassment.” In the story, Curry says she approached NBC management in 2012, shortly before she left Today, to relay a complaint of Lauer’s “physical” sexual harassment of another staffer. Of the incident, Curry says, “A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her. She was afraid of losing her job. . . . I believed her.” She adds, “I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women.” Nothing came of it, much like nothing has come of NBC’s promise to conduct an internal “culture assessment” in the wake of Lauer’s firing. Curry did leave Today later that year, though.
That woman, along with several other former Today employees, confirm to WaPo their previous statements that Lauer exposed himself to them, had sex with them, and gave them sex toys, all at the office. To this, Lauer has responded, saying that tales of any “coercive, aggressive or abusive actions” are false, and that any misconduct that did happen was consensual. Here’s his statement:
I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months . . . I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up.
I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC. However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.