coming forward
October 15, 2019

Another woman has come forward to accuse Matt Lauer of sexual misconduct in Ronan Farrow's new book.

Ahead of the Tuesday release of Catch and Kill, excerpts last week revealed that Lauer was fired in 2017 after an NBC News employee accused him of rape, a detail that had not been previously reported. But Farrow's book also describes an allegation from Melissa Lonner, a former booker on Today who accused Lauer of exposing himself to her in an empty office at a company party in 2010, The Hollywood Reporter writes.

Lonner alleges she attempted to get away but that Lauer became angry, calling her a "tease" and telling her, "You led me on," Deadline reports. Although she did not make a formal complaint at the time, Farrow reports Lonner told Ann Curry, who then told two senior executives that Lauer had a "problem with women." Lonner upon leaving NBC News in 2013 reportedly signed an agreement that prevented her from filing a legal claim, and she was reportedly reminded by an NBC lawyer in 2018 about the "enforceability of her pact."

Lauer's attorney denied the allegation in a statement, saying "Matt never exposed himself to anyone" and calling the claim "ridiculous."

NBC has denied knowing anything about Lauer's alleged misconduct prior to his firing in November 2017, with NBC News President Noah Oppenheim writing in a letter to staff this week that the agreement Lonner disclosed was "standard for departing employees at the time" and was "not drafted to prevent an employee from reporting misconduct." Oppenheim has also accused Farrow of being "clearly motivated not by a pursuit of truth, but an axe to grind." Farrow stands by his reporting, saying it's "indisputable" that "there was a chain of secret settlements at this company that were covered up." Brendan Morrow

July 10, 2019

Federal prosecutors earlier this week encouraged more of financier Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims to come forward following his arrest, and now, a new accuser has shared her story with NBC News.

Jennifer Araoz in a Wednesday interview with Savannah Guthrie on Today shared her account of allegedly being raped by Epstein when she was 15 years old.

She describes in the NBC interview being approached by a "recruiter" outside of her high school when she was 14 and being introduced to Epstein at his New York townhouse, which she soon began to visit about once a week. Araoz says Epstein served her wine, gave her hundreds of dollars, and had her massage him wearing only her underwear while he pleasured himself. "He knew very well my age," Araoz said. Then, when she was 15, Araoz says Epstein "forcefully raped" her.

"I was terrified and I was telling him to stop," she said. "...He had no intentions of stopping." She did not return to see Epstein again after that, Araoz says, and left her school because it was so close to where he lived.

Epstein this week was arrested and hit with sex trafficking charges as prosecutors say he abused dozens of underage girls, with the FBI finding photos of nude, apparently underage girls at his Manhattan mansion. Epstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Araoz says she did not initially tell anyone about the encounter but later shared her story with four people, who confirmed this to NBC. Now, Araoz plans to file a lawsuit, saying "he hurt me badly" and "this is one way for me to get justice." Brendan Morrow

December 17, 2018

A woman has come forward to allege she had an eight-year sexual relationship with filmmaker Woody Allen beginning when she was underage.

Former model Babi Christina Engelhardt told The Hollywood Reporter Monday that she met Allen and began a relationship with him in 1976. She says they first became intimate when she was 16 years old, under New York's age of consent, which is 17. He was 41 at the time, and Engelhardt says while Allen never asked for her age, she told him she was in high school. This mirrors the plot of Allen's 1979 film Manhattan, in which Allen plays a 42-year-old man who dates a teenager.

Several people, including Engelhardt's friends, brother, and a photographer, confirmed her account to the Reporter. She describes Allen as dictating the terms of the relationship and making her "sick" when he suddenly introduced her to his "girlfriend," Mia Farrow. She says that "it wasn't until after it was done when I really had time to think of how twisted it was when we were together … and how I was little more than a plaything." Engelhardt also says she cried when she saw Manhattan and asked herself, "How was our partnership not something more than just a fling?" Unlike the movie's couple, Allen kept his relationship with Engelhardt very much a secret. "I was kept away," she says.

While Engelhardt says she has more complicated feelings about the relationship today, she clarified that she's not speaking out to "bring down" Allen but to "provide perspective." Allen has been accused of sexually abusing his daughter, Dylan Farrow, when she was seven years old, an allegation he has denied. He declined to provide a comment in response to Engelhardt's account. Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

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