In a lengthy interview with the publication, Zinone says she was 24 when she started sleeping with Lauer in 2000.
The host was recently married at the time to his current wife, Annette Roque.
After serving as an intern at the morning program, Zinone tells Variety she was offered an anchor position back in her home state of West Virginia.
Upon learning she was leaving, Lauer began to come on to Zinone.
In June of 2000, Lauer allegedly wrote the staffer a text that read:
“Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic...
"I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it’s agreeing with you.”
Zinone says she thanked him and asked if the two could meet in order for her to gather "a little advice" from the veteran journalist.
Lauer agreed and met Zinone for lunch.
This is how she described the situation to Variety:
"My intentions were purely professional. I thought this was a way to get real-world constructive advice. What that turned into was an opportunity for him to come on to me.
"It was flattering, confusing, overwhelming. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do with it. He was clearly trying to guide the conversation.
"He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it.
"Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’
"In no lunch I’d ever had at Today had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.”
Confused over what was going on and feeling uneasy about how Lauer acted toward her, Zinone says she asked the host to get together for a discussion.
He requested the pair meet in his dressing room above studio 1A.
According to her account, she reminded him he was married, but...
“He opens the door. There you go. It crossed the line. It was a consensual encounter. It happened in his dressing room above studio 1A, which was empty in the afternoons.
"He got in his car and I had to go back to work, and now my life had completely changed."
Lauer, of course, was fired late last month due to accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment.
Follow-up stories claimed he sent co-workers sex toys, demanded sexual favors of underlings and even raped an employee in his office.
In this case, Zinone acknowledges the relationship was consensual and that the two "met several [more] times" after this initial sexual encounter.
There was even one time, she claims, that Lauer used a button under his desk to lock his office door because he wanted them to have sex right then and there.
“It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside," she says, adding:
"He wanted to do stuff. I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.'"
The last time that Zinone says she saw Lauer was at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in California, when he supposedly told her to meet him in a nearby bathroom, where they proceeded to have “an encounter."
Of the sexual variety, we assume.
She eventually quit her anchor job and joined the Army.
The former PA concludes that her situation was consensual, yes, but she still felt like a victim because she felt he had abused his power.
“He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful - and those were the production assistants and the interns," she told Variety.
“I’m putting my name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women against Matt Lauer.
"I’m validating their stories because some of our experiences are similar. I want these women to know that I believe them, I want to help empower them and collectively we have a voice to change things.
"I have a 7-year-old daughter. I want to do everything I can to assure this doesn’t happen to her.”
Last we heard, the status of Lauer's marriage was up in the air.
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