Matt Lauer responds to explosive rape allegation in Ronan Farrow book

Journalist Ronan Farrow's new book provides a detailed account from the woman whose allegations led to the firing of the former NBC host. Lauer called the accusations “categorically false."
9:36 | 10/10/19

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Transcript for Matt Lauer responds to explosive rape allegation in Ronan Farrow book
It's just very painful for all of us at NBC and the "Today" show and, you know -- it's very, very, very difficult. I'm looking at you and I'm having a weird moment that we were sitting here just like this two years ago. Reporter: This morning, "Today" show anchor Savannah Guthrie and Hoda kotb visually emotional, grappling with new explosive allegations that former "Today" show host Matt Lauer raped a former NBC news colleague at the 2014 Sochi olympics. You know, this is shocking and appalling and -- I honestly don't even know what to say about it. It's not easy now, and we support her, and any women who have come forward with claims. Truth be told, Savannah and I did a little prayer upstairs to sort out what we were going to do, and I think it's -- it's like you feel like you've known someone for 12 years, and then all of a sudden like a door opens up and it's a part of them you didn't know. We don't know all the facts in all of this, but there are not allegations of an affair, there are allegations of a crime. Reporter: The rape accusation detailed in excerpts that "Variety" magazine published from the upcoming book "Catch and kill." Lauer is speaking out saying, my silence has been a mistake. In a letter provided to ABC news Lauer says, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say, enough, saying that the accusation of rape is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense. The incident in question centers on one night five years ago during the Sochi olympic games. Brooke Nevilles worked for NBC news. According to published excerpts, Nevilles told pharaoh that Lauer joined her for drinks and she ended up going back to Lauer's room twice, once to retrieve her press credenti, and another because he invited her back to the room. Neville says Lauer, who was wearing a t-shirt and boxers, pushed her against the door and kissed her, then pushed her onto the bed. According to excerpts from the book, Lauer asked her if she wanted to have anal sex, she said no, but he just did it. It hurt so bad, is this normal? She told pharaoh it was noncons sensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent, I said multiple times I didn't want to have anal sex, she ultimately stopped saying no and cried quietly into the pillow. According to the excerpts Neville told pharaoh back in new York she went on to have more sexual encounters with Lauer and reportedly initiated some of their contact. Lauer is strenuously denying the allegations writing his relationship with Nevilles was a fully consensual extramarital affair. It began when she came to my hotel late one night in Sochi. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, vaginal sex, anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely cons sensual. He adds, after we returned to New York we both communicated by text and phone, met for drinks, she met me at my apartment to continue our affair. Our meetings were arranged mutually. At no time during or after her multiple visits to my apartment did she express in words or actions any discomfort with being there or with our affair. Why would a woman who says she was raped continue to have sexual encounters or relationship with the perpetrator? Most rapes happen between people who know each other, and very often in the context of a relationship. So it's not unusual for somebody to have a situation where they've been assaulted and where they continue to have some kind of relationship with the person. The idea that they continue to have a consensual sexual relationship after this initial encounter, you wouldn't say that negates rape? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Reporter: According to "Variety," pharaoh says Nevilles told colleagues and superiors at NBC but nothing happened until November 2017 when she went to Vieira and told her what happened. Vieira urged her to go to NBC human resources with a lawyer. It Wasser account that led to Lauer's firing a day later. Breaking news, Matt Lauer has been terminated from NBC news. This is a very tough morning for both of us. Reporter: The next day, Lauer released a statement that was read on air. Just moments ago received a statement from Matt, and let me read it to you. There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt I am truly sorry. Reporter: In 2018, Nevilles went on medical leave and was eventually paid seven figures by NBC, according to farrow. Legally, settlements usually do not carry a statement of fault or guilt. They just say, we're paying you for a promise not to sue us, and that's usually where they end. Reporter: NBC responded to "Variety's" report in a statement saying Matt Lauer's conduct was appalling, horrific, and reprehensible as we said at the time. That's why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague. I can't convict him, I can't decide what happened that night or what happened in subsequent encounters that they had. But I would say that the case against Matt Lauer doesn't look any better today than it did yesterday. And that letter, in my opinion, did not do him any favors. Reporter: No charges were ever filed. I would be shocked if this accusation wound up in a criminal court, because the core accusation is alleged to have happened in Russia. It would be tough, at least in my opinion, to try to make this into a criminal case. Reporter: Farrow, who won a pulitzer for his investigative reporting on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, talked to "Nightline" back in 2017. This is the hardest topic in the world for anyone to talk about. It's the last thing any of these women want to open up again. Reporter: After Lauer was fired, "The New York Times" reported on two more women's allegations. One telling the paper Lauer summoned her to his office in 2001 during a workday, locked the door, and allegedly had sex. The woman says she didn't report it because she felt ashamed and didn't want to lose her job. She says he then asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She says he then came around from his desk, pulled down her pants, and had sex with her. She says she does bear some of the responsibility for what happened, but she felt like he was kind of using his power over her. Reporter: Lauer's former cohost, Ann curry, tweeted in support of Nevilles calling her a credible young woman of good character, adding that she believes her. Is it possible that two people could perceive a sexual encounter differently, that he might walk away and think it was consensual, she may walk away and feel raped? Absolutely, I think that happens quite often. It's part of our conditioning that many men feel entitled to behave towards women as if they are objects, and they may not even realize or be aware that that's what they're doing. And that could leave them with very different understandings of what happens. Reporter: It had been a stunning fall from grace for Matt Lauer. After his firing, his wife divorced him. Selling his $44 million Hamptons went almost totally dark on social media, reappearing this week on the social media site tick-tock dancing with his daughter. Shut up Heather sorry Heather look wlooth with her Reporter: Lauer had been like America's dad, the man that America woke up in the mornings to see, known for his travels around the world. Where in the world is Matt Lauer? Reporter: And his contentious interviews, like this one with Tom Cruise back in 2005. Aren't there examples where it work in this. Matt, Matt, Matt. You don't even -- you're glib. Reporter: 2016 presidential candidates. They wonder about your temperament. A very special Monday morning for our friend, Matt Lauer -- Reporter: From that first "Today" show episode more than 20 years ago, Lauer quickly rose to stardom, becoming one of the highest-paid television news anchors in history. He was in a lot of folks' houses every morning. Matt Lauer was the face of the "Today" show brand in so many ways. Reporter: Now Lauer joins the ranks of disgraced media titans. Charlie rose. Roger Ailes. Bill O'Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Mark Halperin, once the political director here at ABC. "Me too" wasn't moment, it's a movement. It is a culture shift. It's happening. Women of all creeds and colors and back grounds, they're like, wait, it's not supposed to be this way, I should be able to just go to work and I want my daughter to be able to just go to work and I want my younger sisters to be able to just go to work. Reporter: Lauer, once contrite, is combative, determined to recast what's left of his public image. He writes in his letter, I admit I ended the affair poorly, I simply stopped communicating with her. I understand how that must have made her feel. However, being upset or having second thoughts does not give anyone the right to make false accusations years later about an affair in which they fully and willingly participated. Meanwhile, tonight Nevilles provided a statement to NBC news saying that his open letter was a case study in victim blaming. I'm not afraid of him now. Also tweeting her thanks to the survivors that offered her support. A programming note, journalist Ronan farrow joins "Gma" this morning for a sit-down interview.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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