In his explosive new book, Ronan Farrow claims that Matt Lauer exhibited inappropriate workplace behavior years before he was fired for alleged sexual misconduct and accused of raping colleague Brooke Nevils.
In Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators(out now), an unnamed former on-air personality at NBC accuses Lauer, 61, and a senior executive of making unwanted advances toward her before her departure in 2012.
“I was like a hanging piece of meat,” she tells Farrow, 31, in the book. “I would walk into work with a knot in my stomach. I would come home and cry.”
According to colleagues who worked with the woman, Lauer and the executive would reportedly make “lewd remarks” about the woman “over open mics” during broadcasts. She also showed several colleagues messages from Lauer and the executives that she believed were “propositions.”
But the real trouble came after she declined the men’s alleged advances, according to Farrow’s book.
“I got punished,” she says in the book, adding that she believed she received fewer assignments after rejecting Lauer and the executive. “My career took a nosedive.”
The woman says she did not make a formal report with the Human Resources department because she feared “further harm to her career,” the book explains. However, she did begin openly telling her colleagues about what was happening.
She left the company in 2012 and was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon her exit, she claimsd in Catch and Kill.
“You must have something huge on them,” her agent told her at the time, according to the book.
The agreement was reportedly signed by both the woman and the executive she claimed harassed her.
On Monday, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim pointed to the lack of report as evidence that the company was not aware of any harassment claims prior to 2017.
“Farrow says this individual received inappropriate messages from Lauer, and showed them to ‘colleagues,’ not management, made no report, and we’ve found no record of one,” he wrote in a memo to staffers at NBC News and MSNBC. “She signed a completely standard separation agreement, including a routine confidentiality provision that was in her original employment contract. Again, that provision was designed to protect proprietary company information, not prevent an employee from reporting misconduct, nor has it ever been used that way.”
Lauer was fired from the Today show in 2017 after allegations of sexual misconduct. In the book, it is revealed that former NBC employee Nevils accused him of anally raping her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which he has denied.
And in a statement to PEOPLE, Lauer’s attorney Elizabeth M. Locke said: “In 25 years at NBC, Matt Lauer did not have a single complaint brought to his attention until November 28, 2017. NBC has already stated this for the record after an internal investigation. I am sure NBC will have much to say about Ronan’s claims.”