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Matt Lauer responds to sexual misbehavior allegations: 'To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry'

Matt Lauer responds to sexual misbehavior allegations: 'To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry'
Matt Lauer during a broadcast of "Today" in New York in April 2016. (Peter Foley / EPA / Shutterstock)

Fired "Today" co-anchor Matt Lauer issued an apology Thursday in response to allegations of sexual misbehavior that cost him his job at NBC News.

"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions," Lauer said in a statement. "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 the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace."

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Lauer, 59, lost his job on Tuesday night, a day after NBC executives heard a formal complaint from a female network employee who said Lauer engaged in inappropriate behavior throughout 2014, including while "Today" was broadcasting from Sochi, Russia, to cover the Winter Olympics.

Since NBC announced Lauer's firing, the New York Times and Variety have published detailed accounts of other women who complained of inappropriate behavior by the co-anchor.

Variety reported allegations that Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy with an explicit note, showed his penis to another co-worker, and questioned producers about their sex lives.

According to the New York Times, one complaint came from a former NBC employee who said Lauer had summoned her to his office in 2001, locked the door and sexually assaulted her.

An NBC News spokesperson said Wednesday that two more accusers have come forward with harassment complaints about Lauer since the news broke earlier that day. The company said current NBC News management was not aware of any complaints about Lauer's conduct before the employee who came forward Monday night.

With Lauer's departure, "Today" 10 a.m. co-host Hoda Kotb is filling in next to co-anchor Savannah Guthrie during the 7-to-9 a.m. hours of the NBC program, which led with a report on the allegations on Thursday.

Lauer, 59, is the second morning news anchor to be fired this month in connection with allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Last week, Charlie Rose was dismissed from his co-host job at "CBS This Morning" after a report that eight women complained about his behavior at his long-running nightly talk show at PBS, which has now been dropped.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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