The ex-wife of fired NBC “Today’” co-host Matt Lauer has come to his defense following allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Nancy Alspaugh told “Entertainment Tonight” she was “shocked” to hear of Lauer’s firing, and that she “never saw him as a power monger or somebody who would abuse his position in any way.”
“I was shocked because he’s been such a stalwart at that network and in that job,” Alspaugh told ET 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.”
“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.”
Meanwhile, Lauer’s current wife, Annette Roque, has remained silent on her husband’s firing.
NBC fired Lauer on Wednesday after an alleged victim and her lawyer told NBC executives about an encounter she allegedly had with the “Today” co-host at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the “Today” show reported on its website.
“Over the course of several hours, my client detailed egregious acts of sexual harassment and misconduct by Mr. Lauer,” Ari Wilkenfeld of Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson, told Fox News in an emailed statement. “In fewer than 35 hours, NBC investigated and removed Mr. Lauer. … It is our hope that NBC will continue to do what it can to repair the damage done to my client — their employee — and any other women who may come forward.”
NBC News Chairman Andy Lack released a statement Wednesday morning, saying the network terminated Lauer after receiving “a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
The statement said it was the first complaint regarding Lauer’s behavior “in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News,” but noted the company was “presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”
Despite a graphic report by Variety that detailed sexual harassment allegations from three women against Lauer, including claims that the former NBC star lured a female employee into his office and exposed himself to her, and had a button under his desk that locked his office door for privacy, Alspaugh questioned the truth behind the allegations.
“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,” she told ET. “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.”
Alspaugh, who was married to Lauer between 1981 and 1988, told ET she warned the former morning a week before the accusations surfaced after being approached by a reporter.
When she called Lauer with the warning, Alspaugh claimed he denied the allegations and told her “whatever they were going to come out with was fabricated.”
Meanwhile, in a statement read by his former “Today” co-hosts on Thursday, Lauer said “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.”
Lauer added, “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.”
Since the initial report, more women have come forward alleging sexual misconduct against Lauer.
Fox News’ Leora Arnowitz and Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.