Fierce

NBC Says It Will Release The NDAs That Sexual Harassment Survivors Were Forced To Sign

Rachel Maddow announced NBCUniversal will release former employees who experienced sexual harassment and misconduct from non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements. The decision marks a huge victory for survivors. Ronan Farrow revealed in his book, Catch and Kill, that NBC went through great lengths to suppress and cover up sexual harassment allegations against Matt Lauer and other executives. 

“There was a pattern at [NBC] in terms of women making allegations against Matt Lauer and of being paid off and signing away their rights to speak about it all before he was fired,” Maddow said on her show.

While the network vehemently denies the claims in Farrow’s book, Maddow, whose show airs on MSNBC, dedicated an entire episode to interviewing Farrow and even independently corroborated some of his reporting. 

NBCUniversal announces it will release some former employees from NDAs.

“Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation,” a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said in a statement

In Farrow’s book, the journalist revealed that NBC had made at least seven women sign non-disclosure agreements, some of who filed sexual misconduct complaints about the Today Show host Matt Lauer. 

“Several of the women who signed the nondisclosure agreements had complaints that were unrelated to Lauer, about other men in leadership positions within NBC News,” Farrow wrote, while some of the other agreements “called into question the network’s claim that it had known nothing about women’s allegations against Lauer.”

The revelation contradicted the network, who claimed in 2017, that their internal investigation found that there were no other claims or settlements regarding allegations against Lauer.  

Maddow calls out her NBC employers on her show. 

“I have been through a lot of ups and downs in this company since I’ve been here. It would be impossible to overstate the amount of consternation around this issue,” Maddow said. “But accusations that people in positions of authority in this building may have been complicit in some way of shielding those guys from accountability, those accusations are very, very hard to stomach.”

Maddow was able to confirm Farrow’s reporting that NBC tried to obstruct his article on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations. 

“We have independently confirmed that NBC News did that,” Maddow told viewers. “That did happen. He was told to pause his reporting.”

The day before Farrow’s book was published NBC News’ president Noah Oppenheim published a letter pre-emptively denying the allegations. 

“Farrow alleges there were employees who reported Lauer’s behavior prior to November of 2017 and were paid settlements to silence them,” said Noah Oppenheim, NBC News’ president, in a memo to staff. “Not only is this false, the so-called evidence Farrow uses in his book to support the charge collapses under the slightest scrutiny.”

Farrow praises NBC’s decision to release former employees from their NDAs.

“I think this will go a long way towards making them feel that they can discuss this openly,” Farrow told Maddow on her show.

Non-disclosure agreements are typically used to protect proprietary business information but can be weaponized against sexual misconduct victims by forcing them into silence with the threat of legal action. 

Farrow has maintained for years that NBC executives ordered him to shut down his groundbreaking reporting about the misconduct allegations against Weinstein because Weinstein threatened to publicly expose the allegations against Lauer. 

“This is a documented pattern of secret settlements in this company,” he told Maddow.

Lauer was fired in 2017 by MSNBC when a colleague filed a complaint accusing him of sexual harassment during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Two additional women filed reports following his dismissal. Lauer still denies any allegations. 

Farrow alleges NBC had at least seven women sign NDAs.

In one case, Farrow wrote that one unnamed on-air personality signed an NDA in 2012, alleging that, “NBC sought the deal after she showed colleagues messages she took to be propositions, from both Lauer and one of the senior executives who later departed the company.” 

Farrow says the woman didn’t file a formal complaint in fear of retaliation that would harm her career. In another incident, Farrow spoke to a former producer who alleges Lauer exposed his erect penis to her at the office in 2010. Catch and Kill claims that the woman told Ann Curry, Lauer’s co-host, who alerted senior executives that Lauer had a “problem with women,” and they should “keep an eye on him.” 

“Ronan Farrow continues his attempt to monetize the MeToo movement, using salacious allegations as promotional trinkets to sell his book. Matt never exposed himself to anyone,” Lauer’s attorney Libby Locke told NBC News. 

Lauer denies all allegations, while NBCUniversal maintains there were no other claims or settlements regarding Lauer. 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

Things That Matter

ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

According to the Texas Tribune, the key witness in the ongoing sexual assault investigation at an ICE detention center has been deported. She was previously being held at a Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso, Texas.

While the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General initially forbid ICE from deporting her, the office apparently reversed their decision on Monday. According to reports, the office determined that “further interviews could be done over the phone”.

via Getty Images

According to previous reports, the unidentified 35-year-old woman alleged that guards had “forcibly kissed” her and touched her on the private parts.

Documents, which were extensively reported on by ProPublica, described the harassment as a “pattern and practice” at this particular detention center.

The woman also alleges that the guards would attempt to extort sexual favors from her and other detainees when they were returning from the medical unit back to her barrack. One guard allegedly told her that he would help get her released “if she behaved”.

The unnamed woman reported the harrasment to her lawyers who then filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. The DHS then opened an investigation into the ICE Detention Center in El Paso.

The FBI has, since then, interviewed the woman extensively. According to documents, the woman gave investigators a tour of the facility where she showed them where the alleged harassment took place–in what were identified as security camera “blind spots”.

According to her, the guard told her that if she reported him, “No one would believe her”.

via Getty Images

Since the woman made these accusations, at least two other women at the same detention center came forward with similar claims. One of these women has already been deported.

According to previous reports, the unnamed woman accusing ICE officials of sexual assault was being held at the El Paso detention center for a drug-related crime and illegally entering the country. She claims she initially fled Mexico after a cartel member sexually assaulted and threatened her.

While ICE says that they have “zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody”, the reality is much bleaker.

According to the advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants, ICE has had 14,700 complaints filed against them between 2010 and 2016 alleging sexual and/or physical abuse.

In the most recent statistics available, ICE reported 374 formal accusations of sexual assault in 2018. Forty-eight of those were substantiated by the agency and 29 were still pending an investigation. According to Freedom for Immigrants, only a fraction of these complaints are investigated by the Office of Inspector General.

The woman’s lawyer, Linda Corchado, has not been shy about expressing her displeasure over her client’s deportation.

“[The government] allowed their most powerful witness to be deported,” Corchado said. “How can we possibly take this investigation seriously now or ever pretend that it ever was from the outset?”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Jussie Smollett Speaks Out For The First Time In Months About His Alleged 2019 Attack— ‘They Won’t Let This Go’

Entertainment

Jussie Smollett Speaks Out For The First Time In Months About His Alleged 2019 Attack— ‘They Won’t Let This Go’

Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty

In early 2019, “Empire “actor Jussie Smollett found himself thrust into the public spotlight of scrutiny after it was reported that he had been the victim of a hate crime. His original claim initially prompted public outrage and a flood of support from fans. Then, nearly three weeks later, the public was shocked to learn that Smollett had been charged with disorderly conduct and the false filing of a police report after it was determined that the attack had been staged. Worse? Officials suspected that Smollett himself had choreographed the entire attack from start to finish. In March of 2019, the actor was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report that claimed two men attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him.

Since then, the charges against Smollett have been dropped but his reputation remains tarnished. The court of public opinion has determined that he is a liar and fabricator. Ultimately he was dropped from his role on his show and he has remained relatively silent about the issue.

Now, a year after the alleged attack Smollett is speaking out about the controversy in a rare interview.

On Wednesday, the actor made an appearance in an Instagram Live conversation with author and activist Marc Lamont Hill. During the interview, Smollett addressed his ongoing trial calling the situation “frustrating, to say the least.”

“It’s been beyond frustrating, and I certainly am not going rogue,” Smollett explained. “I’m still taking the advice of my attorneys and everything like that, but I don’t really see, honestly, what staying quiet has really done, like, where it has gotten me. … It’s so much bigger than me.”

Smollett went onto share what the past year has done to him and shared that his legal team recently filed a motion against his indictment. The motion is set to be reviewed in court on Thursday. “I believe I have to give it up to God,” Smollett explained before adding that he thinks the legal motion will fall in his favor.

“They won’t let this go,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter — there is an example being made. And the sad part is that there’s an example being made of someone who did not do what they are being accused of.”

Addressing accusations that his original claims were all a hoax, Smollett said that “From the very, very beginning, it was set up to seem like I was lying about something or everything.”

Smollett claimed “there would be no reason for me to do this” and called the accusations “bulls—,” before adding that the “last thing” hew would ever want to do is “be portrayed as a victim.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com