Matt Lauer, the disgraced former anchor of NBC's "Today" show who was fired Wednesday for “inappropriate sexual behavior,” once summoned a married female employee to his office, locked the door and sexually assaulted her until she passed out, the New York Times reported after interviewing the accuser.
The alleged incident occurred in 2001. The woman, who was not named in the report, told the Times that she was in her 40s at the time.
According to the report, Lauer was behind his desk and she took a seat in the office. She said he locked the door from a button at his desk and he asked her to unbutton her blouse. She said she complied and claims he got up from his desk, approached her from behind, bent her over his desk and had sex.
Woke up on the floor
She claims that she passed out during intercourse and woke up later on the floor in his office. She said Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse. She told the Times that Lauer never mentioned the encounter with her again and she said she left the network about a year later.
The accuser asked the paper not to identify her in the report. The paper said it contacted her ex-husband who said he remembered the alleged encounter. The two were reportedly separated in 2001 and are now divorced.
The Times report said NBC received at least two more complaints about Lauer after the network announced he was fired prior to Wednesday’s "Today" broadcast.
“While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident,” Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News, wrote in a memo to staff.
Meanwhile, an NBC staffer approached executives about an incident that allegedly occurred with Lauer during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The intern allegedly provided a photo “which was a major part of the evidence which is why the firing came so quickly.” It “was so damning that they had no other option but to fire him,” a source told the New York Post. The photo “showed incontrovertible proof of inappropriate sexual behavior on his part.”
The Times, citing two people briefed on an editorial meeting at NBC headquarters on Wednesday, reported that Lauer and the intern's involvement continued after the Olympics.
Lauer has long been one of the most-liked and highest-paid figures in the TV news industry, and his firing startled many of the roughly 4 million viewers who start their day with the "Today" show.
Follows Rose firing
Lauer became the second morning host in a week to lose his job over sexual misconduct allegations. Previously, CBS fired Charlie Rose of "CBS This Morning" after several women who worked for him complained about his behavior.
Messages to Lauer and his agent were not immediately returned, and the network would not say whether he denied or admitted to any wrongdoing. He is married with three children.
Lauer, 59, has essentially been the king of television morning news since first being paired with Katie Couric on "Today" in 1997.
Ari Wilkenfeld, the attorney for Lauer's accuser, praised NBC for acting "quickly and responsibly" in response to the morning host's "egregious acts of sexual harassment and misconduct." The lawyer did not identify his client.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.