From exposing himself to a staffer — and chiding her for not having sex with him — to treating a sex toy as an office gift, a Variety report says three women have accused former Today host Matt Lauer of sexual harassment. The women remained anonymous, fearing professional repercussions.
The publication also spoke with dozens of current and former staffers at “Today,” who reveal Lauer’s alleged harassment was an open secret and that past encounters were reported to human resources. Lauer was fired from “Today” before the November 29 telecast due to “inappropriate sexual behavior.”
One of the women tells Variety that Lauer gave her a sex toy as a present and wrote an explicit note describing how he wanted to use it on her, which left her “mortified.” Another woman says Lauer asked her to come into his office one day and that he exposed himself to her when she entered. When she declined to do anything sexual with him, Lauer allegedly reprimanded her. The women say Lauer would quiz female producers on who they’d slept with and openly say which female staffers he’d love to sleep with when playing the game “fuck, marry, kill” in the office.
According to more than 10 accounts from former “Today” staff members, Lauer was known to fixate on women’s bodies and looks and to make lewd comments in person or over text message to female staffers. He allegedly once made a comment in which he compared a staffer’s performance in bed to the capability of her work in the office. “For Lauer, work and sex were intertwined,” the Variety article reads.
Lauer, who is married, also allegedly had consensual relationships with staff members. “He couldn’t sleep around town with celebrities or on the road with random people, because he’s Matt Lauer and he’s married. So he’d have to do it within his stable, where he exerted power, and he knew people wouldn’t ever complain,” a producer told Variety.
The initial accusation that got Lauer fired was reportedly from a current NBC employee who alleges Lauer behaved inappropriately towards her in a sexual manner for several months, starting at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said the accusation was the first NBC had heard in the over 20 years Lauer has worked at the company. However, the women said they had complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior before. Complaints were ignored.