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Katie Couric says she had "no idea" that Matt Lauer engaged in sexual misconduct

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Katie Couric has finally spoken up about the allegations of sexual misconduct facing her former "Today" co-host Matt Lauer.

Couric said to People magazine, "I had no idea this was going on during my tenure or after I left."

Couric, who departed "Today" in 2006 to anchor "CBS Evening News" has been criticized for her silence over the last month after Lauer was fired. Since NBC News first investigated a detailed claim made by one of Lauer's colleagues, other women had come forward to accuse him.

"I think I speak for many of my former colleagues when I say this was not the Matt we knew," Couric told People. "Matt was a kind and generous colleague who treated me with respect. In fact, a joke I once made on late-night television was just that, because it was completely contrary to our brother-sister relationship. It's still very upsetting. I really admire the way Savannah (Guthrie) and Hoda (Kotb) and the entire 'Today' show staff have handled a very difficult situation."

Couric was speaking about a remark she made in 2012 on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" where she said that Lauer "pinches me on the ass a lot." The clip received a lot of attention online in late November after Lauer's firing.

The only comment Couric had made on the matter since Lauer departed "Today" was a comment on her Instagram responding to another user's criticism of her silence. Couric wrote, "It's incredibly upsetting and I will say something when I'm ready to. Thanks for your interest."

"The whole thing has been very painful for me," Couric said to People on Lauer's behavior. "The accounts I've read and heard have been disturbing, distressing and disorienting and it's completely unacceptable that any woman at the 'Today' show experienced this kind of treatment."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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