Matt Lauer Accuser’s Lawyer Says He’s ‘in Awe’ of Her Courage, ‘Encouraged’ by NBC’s Response

A lawyer representing the woman accusing Matt Lauer of “inappropriate sexual behavior” has spoken out.

In a statement provided to the New York Times, Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson in Washington, confirmed he represents the woman who made the complaint to NBC, but declined to publicly identify her.

It was announced Wednesday that Lauer, 59, had been terminated by NBC News after the network received on Monday night a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior,” with reason to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident.”

“My client and I met with representatives from NBC’s Human Resources and Legal Departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours,” said Wilkenfeld. “Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.”

“While I am encouraged by NBC’s response to date, I am in awe of the courage my client showed to be the first to raise a complaint and to do so without making any demands other than the company do the right thing,” he continued.

The Times met with the woman Monday afternoon, but she told the newspaper she was not ready to come forward and tell her story publicly.

Lauer, who joined the network in 1992 as a newsreader on Today, had been co-anchor of the morning show since January 1997 and signed a $ 20 million dollar contract in 2016. His termination comes after a string of firings of top stars in television news, following the ouster of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly last April and CBS’ Charlie Rose earlier this month.

“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company’s standards. As a result, we’ve decided to terminate his employment,” Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News, said in a statement. “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.

“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” he continued. “We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.”

A source told PEOPLE Lauer was fired after alleged inappropriate sexual behavior throughout 2014, including at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

An NBC staffer filed a complaint Monday “that was serious enough that he was terminated,” the source explained. “The accuser described inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace occurring throughout 2014.”

Reps for Lauer declined to comment.

Today source, meanwhile, told PEOPLE the team was shocked by the news.

“It’s like a death in the family. Everybody is crying,” said the source. “No one knows what the f— happened.”


PEOPLE.com

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