3 Moments From Joyce Mitchell's 'Today' Show Interview That Might Just Change Your Opinion Of Her
Today's Matt Lauer secured an exclusive interview with Joyce Mitchell, the married prison worker accused of helping two felons escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York in June. Mitchell is currently being held at Clinton County Jail, having already pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation. In the interview, which airs Monday, Mitchell claims that she's sorry for aiding Richard Matt and David Sweat, telling Lauer that she did not have full control over the disturbing situation.
Mitchell, a seamstress, reportedly formed a close relationship with the two felons, both of whom were convicted of murder. Mitchell eventually helped them escape the maximum-security state prison by bringing them tools, such as blades and chisels. It should be noted that she did not provide them with any power tools.
As the manhunt unfolded in the forests of upstate New York in June, it was reported Mitchell had a romantic and sexual relationship with Matt. Later, after pleading guilty to her charges in July, Mitchell confirmed that she'd had sex with Matt, alleging that he seduced her. “I was caught up in the fantasy,” she told investigators. “I enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me, and the thought of a different life.”
But the former prison worker made several staggering revelations in her recent interview with Lauer — revelations that alter the narrative we thought we knew about Mitchell's life and relationships. These are the key takeaways from the interview.
It Wasn't Love
Mitchell's confession may have made it sound like she was caught up in a twisted romance, but the former prison worker told Lauer that her relationship with Matt was much more sinister and harmful. According to Mitchell, Matt forced her into non-consensual oral sex, and that there was never any "sexual intercourse."
“Mr. Matt had grabbed me a couple times and kissed me," she told Lauer. "There was one point where he wanted me to … he wanted me to perform oral sex on him." Mitchell said that she repeatedly told Matt "No," but claims that he sexually assaulted her anyway. "When I said ‘no,’ he grabbed my head and pushed me down." Mitchell told Lauer that Matt had "complete control" over her. "He was very good at that," she said.
There Was A Lot At Stake For Her Family
While federal and state authorities combed upstate New York, people pried into the personal lives of the Mitchells, who seemed to have a tumultuous relationship. There was speculation that Joyce was going to run away with Matt because her relationship with her husband was crumbling. "I was going through a time where I didn't feel like my husband loved me anymore," Mitchell told Lauer, explaining how she became manipulated by Matt and Sweat.
As it turns out, the Mitchells may have a stronger relationship than we thought. Her husband, Lyle, said in public statements that he never had plans to divorce Mitchell. In fact, he stood by her when she was arrested. According to Mitchell, when Matt said he loved her, she replied, "I love my husband." But the more Mitchell became ensnared by Matt, the more she realized his endgame: He and Sweat were planning on killing Lyle, which terrified her.
And it gets creepier: Mitchell also told Lauer that the two felons discovered where her mother and oldest son lived. That's when Mitchell realized that she was in way too deep. "Who could I tell?" she asked Lauer. "Who could I trust?" Mitchell eventually pulled out of the prisoners' escape plan, though it was a little too late.
She's Sorry — And Willing To Go To Prison
Mitchell may have been coerced (both emotionally and physically) by Matt. Yet despite the sexual abuse, she still believes that she must face legal consequences for her actions. "I deserve to be punished," Mitchell told Lauer. "I am so sorry for everything that everyone went through because of me."
Would she take it all back if she could? Of course, she said. But Mitchell also wants everyone to know that she went along with the two felons because she was trying to protect her loved ones, including her husband. "I was only trying to save my family," Mitchell told Lauer.