Matt Lauer has a new love interest.
The disgraced journalist is dating his longtime friend, Shamin Abas, a source tells ET. The 50-year-old public relations executive, who bears a resemblance to Lauer's ex-wife, Annette Roque, was photographed with Lauer as they caught a flight out of New Jersey, headed to New Zealand, on Dec. 19.
Lauer, 62, finalized his divorce from Roque in September, after 20 years together. The former couple shares three kids, 18-year-old Jack, 16-year-old Romy and 12-year-old Thijs.
According to ET's source, "For some time, Matt wanted to save his marriage but his wife was far past ever mending their long time troubled relationship."
"Annette has moved on, she has stepped out of this marriage for good and is ready for Matt to do the same," the source shares, adding that Lauer "finally feels free to date in public."
"He has spent a great deal of time reflecting on his role in his downfall and knows the only way to get past this is to start over," the source says.
"Shamin has been a longtime friend to Matt and it’s no surprise they’ve started dating. She was there for him throughout this process. Since Matt's separation, he was quietly dating women, but hadn’t been serious until now. This romance with Shamin seems to make him really happy. She was one of the first friends to reach out and offer Matt support," the source shares. "They met in the Hamptons years ago and remained friends."
ET's source says that Lauer and Abas started dating in October. "She has stood by him and isn’t letting what’s been reported affect their relationship. Matt and Shamin have so much in common. Shamin knows what he’s been through and wants to be there for him for his next step in life," the source continues.
"Matt seems happier than he’s been in a very long time and those friends that have supported him through this believe Shamin is a great match," ET's source says.
The former Today co-anchor was fired from NBC in November 2017 in the wake of sexual harassment allegations made against him. Lauer has denied all allegations against him, including an allegation of sexual assault by his former NBC News colleague, Brooke Nevils, which found new light with Ronan Farrow's new book, Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators.
In the book, Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which she was covering with Meredith Vieira. She claims that after having six shots of vodka, she visited Lauer's hotel room twice, once to get a press pass and again because he invited her, according to the book. On her second visit to Lauer's room, Nevils alleges in the book that Lauer "pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex," Farrow wrote. "She said that she declined several times."
"It was non-consensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent," Nevils says in the book.
Lauer responded in a lengthy letter, "Today, nearly two years after I was fired by NBC, old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book."
Lauer added that he "had an extramarital affair" with Nevils and called their Sochi encounter "mutual and completely consensual."
See more on Lauer in the video below.
Reporting by Adriane Schwartz.