Hours after Today show co-host Matt Lauer was fired, an explicit report surfaced saying the anchor had given a sex toy accompanied by a lurid note to a female colleague and once exposed himself to another woman inside his NBC office.
Variety, the Hollywood trade publication, said its staff conducted a two-month investigation into Lauer's behavior during his decades-long tenure as co-anchor of the morning news show.
Three women told Variety that they were sexually harassed by Lauer, according to the report. Journalists also interviewed dozens of current and former NBC employees as part of Variety's investigation.
“Their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time. They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions,” the publication reported.
In his office, Lauer had a button under his desk that "allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up," the report said. Two women who claimed Lauer harassed them said locking the door allowed the TV presenter to make unwelcome sexual advances without being seen by others, the report said.
A former employee said Lauer also made cruel comments about her physical appearance when he allegedly told Bryant Gumbel, "She has this really ugly cold sore on her lip,' like it was something to be ashamed of," the woman told Variety.
Wednesday evening, The New York Times reported two more women came forward to NBC after Lauer's dismissal, including one who said he summoned her to his office in 2001 and had with sex with her. She didn't report the incident to network authorities because she felt ashamed, the paper reported.
On Thursday, Lauer issued an apology, saying in a statement, “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. As I am writing this I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC."
Lauer also suggested that some of the allegations against him are "untrue or mischaracterized."
Lauer was fired following a detailed complaint from a co-worker that was made Monday night. NBC News chairman Andy Lack said those allegations were the first received by company officials about the veteran journalist.
But "we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," Lack said in a statement.