NEWYORK (Reuters) – Matt Lauer, the once-popular co-host of NBC’s “Today,” is accused in a new book by journalist Ronan Farrow of raping a female colleague at a hotel room during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to a report in Variety on Wednesday.
NBC News fired Lauer two years ago after a female colleague accused him of inappropriate sexual behaviour, making him one of a series of rich and powerful men to be felled by accusations of harassment or misconduct.
In Farrow’s book, “Catch and Kill,” the same former NBC employee who levelled the accusations that led to Lauer’s dismissal says he forced her to have anal sex after a night of drinking in the Russian city that hosted the 2014 Summer Games, Variety reported, citing the book.
“It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” the woman told Farrow, the report said. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Reuters was unable to obtain a copy of the book, which publisher Little, Brown and Co is due to release on Oct. 15.
Variety later on Wednesday published a letter from Lauer provided by his lawyer denying the allegations described in Farrow’s book as well as other accusations of misconduct that have been levelled against him over the past two years.
“Today, nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made,” Lauer wrote. “All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book.”
Efforts by Reuters to reach representatives of Lauer, Farrow and Little, Brown and Co were not immediately successful.
In statement on Wednesday, NBC 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.”
“Catch and Kill” focuses on Farrow’s investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was arrested last year in New York on rape and other charges.
This week, “The New Yorker” magazine published a three-part series of excerpts from Farrow’s upcoming book. The passages did not contain any reference to the allegations against Lauer.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani and Gabriella Borter; Editing by Frank McGurty and Rosalba O’Brien)