The former “Today” show staffer who took her brief relationship with Matt Lauer public says their fling was “an abuse of power.”
Addie Zinone sat down with Megyn Kelly Monday and said she chose to come forward not to be a martyr, but to put a face and a name to the multiple anonymous women who have accused the fired TV personality of sexual harassment and assault.
Zinone, an Iraq War combat veteran, published a lengthy first-person account on Variety last week recounting how a married Lauer aggressively pursued a sexual relationship with her when she was an assistant at NBC in 2000.
She maintains all of their encounters were consensual, but that his incessant comments on her looks and his curt dismissals of her post-meet-ups shredded her confidence and eventually forced her to quit her job at NBC.
“I’m coming forward and saying yes, this was consensual, (but) it was an abuse of power,” she told Kelly. “I want to put a face and a story to these women’s accusations because I’m seeing that they’re being doubted and so I thought, ‘I’ve got to validate their claims.’ This happened and I’ve got to explain it in embarrassing detail because I want them to understand commonalities in our stories.”
Lauer was fired from NBC News last month following a complaint from a staffer. Once he was fired, multiple other women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
Though Zinone acknowledges her link to Lauer is different than those accusing him of misconduct, she still says she’s faced her fair share of backlash in going public.
“I expected (blowback). I understand that people are going to paint me as a homewrecker, as a slut and a whore — those are things I have been called. It was suggested yesterday to me, ‘Please, please go get hit by a bus,’” she said.
Zinone added that she’s been contacted by other victims of sexual assault, though none of Lauer’s accusers, and explained that she hopes her decision to come forward sparks a conversation about consent.
Lauer has not commented on Zinone’s account, but released a statement shortly after he was fired apologizing for his behavior and denying some allegations.