Lauer, 60, has been laying low in the Hamptons ever since — and a source close to him tells PEOPLE he remains “truly devastated” over the situation that ended his career.
“He wants to make up for anything he has done to hurt people,” says the source of the veteran newsman, who was fired on Nov. 29 after over 20 years co-anchoring the network’s flagship morning show. (He has since been replaced by Hoda Kotb, who recently said they “keep in touch.”)
A source 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. Another source with knowledge of the situation countered that Lauer had viewed this relationship as “consensual” and was “dumbfounded” by the accusation.
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Lauer hasn’t addressed the allegations past his initial statement released Nov. 30.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said at the time. “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. 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.”
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort,” he continued. “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.”
In the weeks following his firing, sources told PEOPLE the ousted anchor was struggling to cope with the scandal.
“He is weak and broken and ashamed by his own admission,” one of Lauer’s former Today show colleagues said in December.
“He is my friend,” added the colleague. “He is human, and he is flawed. But is he going to use his power to be a predator on women? Until I see solid evidence of that, I just can’t believe it. We don’t know the details.”
Another insider told PEOPLE Lauer was “shocked” and “completely bewildered by what happened.”
“He never expected this,” said the insider. “He had felt like he was invulnerable — like Superman. … He never thought it would get to this level.”
As for his colleagues? A Today staffer told PEOPLE that most employees inside Rockefeller Center were heartbroken over what transpired and torn between the man they knew and the Lauer portrayed by his accusers.
“The reason people are so upset and people are crying on our staff, which is like 80 percent women, is because he was really loved and treated people really well,” the staffer said. “And it’s shocking to think that there could be this side.”
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The first source also tells PEOPLE that Lauer and his wife Annette Roque “rarely talk” and are “preparing for divorce.” (The couple, who wed in 1998, share three kids together: sons Jack, 16, and Thijs, 11, and daughter Romy, 14.)
“The damage in his marriage can’t be fixed, and each would be better off to move on,” the source says. “They know this, but the kids are important to both of them.”