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“I was shocked because he’s been such a stalwart at that network and in that job,” television producer Alspaugh told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday. “He’s been the best person that’s ever held that job and I couldn’t imagine that anything that he would have done—that would have been so out of character for him—that would have caused that reaction.”
On Wednesday, it was announced that Lauer had been terminated from his position as longtime anchor of the NBC morning program after the network received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” Savannah Guthrie opened the show Wednesday reading a statement from NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, in which he stated, “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.”
“I never saw him as a power monger or somebody who would abuse his position in any way,” Alspaugh said about Lauer.
Since he parted ways with the network, Alspaugh said that she has reached out to Lauer, but has yet to hear back, “but of course I’ve given him my support. One hundred percent.”
“He’s just a very giving person and charming and I think a lot of this stuff is obviously going to come to light, whether it’s true or not, and some of the things that are being stated may not be true,” Alspaugh said. “We have to find that out, you know? As time goes on here, people should be aware there’s a family involved here. There are three children and that’s—I think it’s important to be aware that this can destroy a family. Reporting on accusations before they know whether they’re real or not.”
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She added that the pair last spoke a week before his firing, when she allegedly “called him to let him know that a reporter had shown up at my door and was saying that some things were going to be coming out,” she shared, “And when I called him, he thanked me for the call, and I got the contact of the reporter and he said of course none of it was true.”
Although the pair divorced nearly 30 years ago, Alspaugh said that she and Lauer have an amicable relationship. “We were very friendly and I, of course, met his current wife, Annette, and we had our children at the same time,” said Alspaugh. “I’m very close with his family, with his mother and his sister, and I know they’re all just trying to hang in amidst this firestorm.”
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In a report published Wednesday afternoon by Variety, three anonymous women accused the former newsman of sexual harassment, claiming Lauer had once brought a female employee into this office “and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis.” Lauer then allegedly “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.”
A former NBC employee—who spoke to the The New York Times on condition of anonymity—also came forward, saying that Lauer sexually assaulted her in 2001. According to the publication, Lauer had been making “inappropriate comments” to her after she started working at the media company in the late 1990s.
In the days since he was let go from NBC, Lauer has retreated to his home in the Hamptons and is putting his attention on his family. He married Dutch model Annette Roque in 1998 after meeting on a blind date, and they have three children: son Jack, 16, daughter Romy, 14, and son Thijs, 11.
“His family is his focus at the moment,” a source told People.
On Thursday, Lauer spoke out about his termination from NBC for the first time in a statement read by Guthrie.
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“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” Lauer said in the statement obtained by People. “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.
“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.”
“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 people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”