In a piece for Variety, former Today show employee Addie Zinone (née Collins) has shared her allegations about her relationship with Matt Lauer — the details of which are noticeably similar to other allegations from women who have accused the news host of misconduct. Lauer did not respond to Variety's request for comment on the story, and an agent for Lauer did not return Bustle's request for comment at the time of publication. Previously, Lauer released a statement about allegations against him which reads: "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."
Zinone claims her relationship with Lauer initially lasted around a month and included more than one consensual sexual encounters. Although Zinone says their relationship was different than other woman who allege non-consensual experiences with Lauer, Zinone talks about how much she related to their allegations (including the much discussed button he allegedly used to close his office door), and cites her experience as an example of how Lauer allegedly used his position of power to prey on women.
"I sat across from him," Zinone claims about one encounter with Lauer, "and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts. It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside." Zinone claims Lauer "wanted to do stuff" while the two were alone in his office. This wasn't Zinone's first experience with Lauer, which began after he allegedly invited her to lunch back in July 2000. What followed was a month long relationship, according to Zinone, which allegedly included multiple consensual sexual encounters, that Zinone claims have had a devastating impact on her life.
Zinone claims, "Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic. He knew that I was leaving, and that there was no better prey than somebody who is going to be gone."
NBC fired Lauer for alleged "inappropriate sexual behavior" in the workplace on Nov. 29. In a statement read by Savannah Guthrie, the network claimed they received a detailed complaint Monday from an employee about alleged misconduct by Lauer. "It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards," NBC News chairman Andy Lack's statement said. The employee has remained anonymous, however, multiple other women have also come forward with allegations of misconduct against Lauer.
After the announcement of his departure from Today, Variety published a piece in which three women who worked at NBC accused Lauer of sexual harassment. One claiming that Lauer allegedly took his pants off and exposed himself to her, and others claiming Lauer "had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up." Variety reports that two women who were allegedly harassed by Lauer claim this door "allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him."
"Even looking back now with hindsight," Zinone says in the Variety piece, "at the age of 41, I can’t envision a scenario under those conditions that he created where I could not have succumb to his advances." Zinone shared alleged print-outs of her instant message conversations with Lauer with Variety, and claims her experience with Lauer held her "hostage" for years. "I know that sounds naïve," Zinone continued, "I realize it might even sound dramatic. But that's the truth. And now, with everything that's come out, I wasn't the only one."
Why did Zinone choose to share her claims with the public now? According to her, she wants to put her "name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women" against Lauer. "I'm validating their stories because some of our experiences are similar," she said.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.