Matt Lauer's Ex-Wife Claims He Was "Blindsided" By Sexual Misconduct Claims
When Nancy Alspaugh spoke to Lauer last week, he called any forthcoming stories about him "fabricated."
Nancy Alspaugh is throwing her support behind her disgraced ex-husband Matt Lauer.
Alspaugh, who was married to the former Today show host from 1991 to 1998, says she is "shocked" about the news of his firing and called the allegations being leveled against Lauer "so out of character."
“I was shocked because he’s been such a stalwart at that network and in that job," Alspaugh told Entertainment Tonight about his termination from his longtime post as Today co-anchor, which he has held since 1997. "He’s been the best person that’s ever held that job and I couldn’t imagine that anything he would have done — that would have been so out of character for him — that would have caused that reaction."
Lauer was swiftly terminated from NBC News after the network received a complaint from an employee of "inappropriate sexual behavior" in the workplace at the hands of Lauer throughout 2014. NBC received the complaint on Monday and by the end of Tuesday, Lauer was terminated. His Today co-anchor, Savannah Guthrie, announced the news, along with Today colleague Hoda Kotb, who appears to be Lauer's temporary fill-in, on Wednesday's show.
Alspaugh said she spoke to Lauer one week ago to tell him that a reporter had shown up at her door saying "some things" were going to come out about the TV host.
"He thanked me for the call," she said, "and he said of course none of it was true. Whatever they were going to come out with was fabricated."
She added, "I think he was blindsided by the whole thing.”
The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lauer did not put up a fight when he received news about his termination. Since Wednesday, as many as five more claims from anonymous accusers have come out against Lauer. Three women described a pattern of in-office sexual harassment to Variety — including that Lauer allegedly exposed himself, had a button under his desk to lock his office door from afar and sent sex toy presents to colleagues — and said he invited women to his hotel rooms when covering the Olympics in various cities.
The accuser who came forward to NBC News detailed a number of inappropriate encounters with Lauer including at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a NBC source told THR. The behavior began at Sochi and continued when Lauer and the accuser returned to New York, according to a New York Times report.
On Thursday, the Times reported (something NBC later confirmed without details) that NBC had received at least two additional complaints related to Lauer, including one of sexual assault. The woman claims Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did, and bent her over a chair and had intercourse with her in his office. At some point, she said she passed out with her pants halfway down, later waking up on the floor. Lauer, she claims, had his assistant take her to a nurse. (NBC said "unequivocally, that, prior to Monday night, current NBC News management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer's conduct.)
In a statement addressing the claims on Thursday, Lauer apologized to those he hurt, adding that while some of the stories are "untrue or mischaracterized," there is enough truth in the stories to bring him embarrassment and shame. "There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions," he wrote in part. "Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I'm committed to beginning that effort. 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 the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace." (THR has reached out to Lauer.)
When speaking to ET, Alspaugh continued to say that she never saw Lauer abuse his power. “I want to get out the fact that he made a contribution to my nonprofit, that he helped me when my husband died," she said. "The selfless, giving part of him, which people tend to forget whenever this kind of a situation comes up. He would give you the shirt off his back if you really needed it. He did that for everybody.”
Alspaugh hasn't heard from him directly since the news broke, but has spoken to family members. "The family is kind of gathering inward and trying to make the best of a really horrible situation," she said.
A photo surfaced Thursday of Lauer, who has been married to Annette Roque since 1998 and the couple have three children together, in the Hamptons near his family home.