As the number of women claiming Matt Lauer was sexually inappropriate has grown to "as many as eight," NBC is denying that its execs know about his alleged indiscretions until a meeting earlier this week.
NBC’s Stephanie Gosk revealed to Megyn Kelly during the 9 a.m. hour of “Today” that there could be up to eight accusers, as details surfaced about the star's alleged lewd behavior and old video clips back in circulation raised eyebrows.
“We have reached out to New York City police; we have reached out to police departments in Long Island. We know of no open criminal investigation against Matt Lauer,” Gosk said.
Gosk noted that some of the women being interviewed by news outlets could overlap, since they have declined to share their names.
“Because they are anonymous, we don’t know if any of the people who spoke to Variety also spoke to The New York Times. ... We don’t know if any of them are the same women.”
The most horrifying episode allegedly involving Lauer, which was recapped by Gosk and former Fox News anchor Kelly, involves a woman who told The Times that Lauer had intercourse with her in his office at NBC’s headquarters until she passed out and had to be seen by a nurse. She described the circumstances to The Times as an assault.
Another woman told Variety that Lauer had gifted her a sex toy with a graphic description, while another said he exposed himself to her in his office, which reportedly had a door that locked via a button under his desk.
A video also surfaced of Lauer telling Meredith Vieira to "keep bending over like that" back in 2006.
Kelly recounted the allegations against her former “Today” colleague and said: “We offer the details not to be salacious, but because you are entitled to know for yourself whether you think this is harassment or not. ... You are entitled to make your own decisions about whether you think those allegations qualify.”
Several people told Variety that though they had complained to personnel at NBC, their complaints were ignored.
Kelly said during “Today” on Thursday, “So now there will be an examination about … what qualifies as a complaint: human resources, versus going to a producer ..."
NBC denies that it received any complaints regarding Lauer until Monday evening. The company says it swiftly fired him upon hearing about an episode that began during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"We can say unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer’s conduct,” a spokesperson for the network said on Wednesday.
In a statement shared on "Today," Lauer said he was "truly sorry" and conceded that some of the rumors about him were true.
"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," he said. "I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly."
The Variety piece quoted a former NBC reporter as saying that show executives "protected the s--t out of Matt Lauer."
NBC Chairman Andy Lack announced Lauer's firing on Wednesday in a statement to staff moments before “Today” went on the air. Co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb appeared shaken as they announced the news to viewers.
An emotional Guthrie admitted "we just learned this moments ago" and said the "Today" team was "devastated and we are still processing all of this."
But a source insisted to Variety that at least some insiders at NBC knew Lauer was up to no good.
"I don’t know what everyone is so surprised by," the source told Variety. "This has been going on for months and months and everybody knew it and it was just going to be which girl came forward, and who reported it first."
Another source offered similar sentiments in when speaking with the New York Post, "Everybody knew about Matt’s behavior, and everyone had to put up with it because he was so powerful, and well protected by management.”