Matt Lauer Breaks His Silence for First Time in 5 Months to Address Sexual Misconduct Allegations
"I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC."
For the first time in five months, since he was fired in November 2017, Lauer, 60, revealed he chose to raise his voice now to address the reports following his initial 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,” Lauer said in a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday and published on Thursday.
“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,” he concluded the statement.
A rep for Lauer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
An insider previously told PEOPLE that Lauer was let go due to sexual misconduct throughout 2014 with a female staffer, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Women have also anonymously accused Lauer of sexual harassment and assault in reports published by Variety and The New York Times.
Former colleague and co-host Ann Curry also recently told The Post that she approached two members of NBC’s management team after an NBC female staffer told Curry that she was “sexually harassed physically” by Lauer. “A woman approached me and asked me tearfully if I could help her. She was afraid of losing her job. … I believed her,” Curry said.
“I told management they had a problem and they needed to keep an eye on him and how he deals with women,” Curry told The Post. (NBC and Today were under different management then than they are now.)
Since Lauer was fired from Today for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior, he has remained in touch with some of his former co-workers and away from the public eye.
Lauer previously released a statement just hours after his termination that ended his over 20 years of co-anchoring the Today show.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” Lauer said in the statement. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC,” he said.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly,” he added.
Lauer continued: “Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”
Since his termination and the reports of his alleged sexual misconduct, Lauer has been laying low in the Hamptons — and a source close to him previously told PEOPLE that he remains “truly devastated” over the situation that ended his career at NBC.
In the aftermath of the allegations, Lauer and his wife Annette Roque “rarely talk” and are “preparing for divorce,” according to a source. (The couple, who wed in 1998, share three kids together: sons Jack, 16, and Thijs, 11, and daughter Romy, 14.)
Lauer’s statements on Thursday were released in the same Post report that claimed longtime NBC anchor Tom Brokaw allegedly made unwanted advances to two women, including former anchor Linda Vester.
“I met with Linda Vester on two occasions, both at her request, 23 years ago, because she wanted advice with respect to her career at NBC,” Brokaw said in a denial statement issued by NBC and obtained by The Post. “The meetings were brief, cordial and appropriate, and despite Linda’s allegations, I made no romantic overtures towards her, at that time or any other,” the statement continued.
A rep for Brokaw and NBC News did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.