A former NBC production assistant claims she had an ongoing sexual relationship with ousted Today show co-anchor Matt Lauer, who is facing numerous accusations of sexual misconduct.
Us Weekly reports that Addie Zinone has come forward to admit she had a brief, consensual affair with Matt Lauer that began in 2000, when she was 24 and working as a production assistant for the Today show, and preparing to leave the company for another opportunity.
According to Zinone’s account, the relationship began when Lauer reportedly sent her provocative messages over the company’s internal instant messaging service.
"I'm putting my name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women against Matt Lauer." https://t.co/xG3iebYgCE
— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) December 14, 2017
Variety obtained the initial messages from Lauer, which are flirtatious in nature, and he indicates he was aware she might interpret them that way.
“Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic,” Lauer reportedly said in the message.
“I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it’s agreeing with you.”
At the time, Zinone told Variety, she hoped to parlay the attention into career advice from Lauer, and asked to set up a meeting. It was several weeks later before she heard from him again — and again, he complimented her on her appearance — at which point they set up a lunch meeting.
As they were ending the lunch, Zinone said Lauer instructed her to leave ahead of him, which she thought at the time was odd and suggestive that he was trying to conceal something — even though things had not turned physical by that point.
But they soon would. Zinone said that following the lunch she had an “out of body experience” and messaged Lauer, who invited her up to his dressing room. There, they had their first of several sexual encounters, after Zinone reminded him that he was married.
Zinone was clear to Variety that the sexual relationship was consensual on her part, but that she did feel like it was an abuse of power and that she soon became uncomfortable with the situation, feeling that she was in over her head.
“I sat across from him, and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts,” she said of one meeting in his office.
“It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff … I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.’”
Zinone told Variety that she is speaking up now to help corroborate the allegations against Lauer.
“He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns … I’m putting my name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women against Matt Lauer. I’m validating their stories because some of our experiences are similar. I want these women to know that I believe them, I want to help empower them and collectively we have a voice to change things.”
Lauer has not yet responded to the most recent allegations, but did issue a statement earlier this month responding to his firing from NBC.
“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,” he said in the statement.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Lauer’s wife Annette Roque was spotted recently without her wedding ring, and her father told the Daily Mail that she plans to file for divorce.
[Feature image: Associated Press]