Former LA Times Beijing Bureau Chief Resigns Following Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Los Angeles Times

UPDATE with statement from Felicia Sonmez: The former Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times has resigned after the news organization completed its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Times had suspended Jonathan Kaiman this spring, after two women came forward with accusations of sexually aggressive behavior.

One journalist, Felicia Sonmez, wrote a letter to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in May to describe being groped by Kaiman without her consent and feeling pressured into having sex after a night of drinking.

Sonmez was the second woman to raise concerns about what she called “problematic behavior.” A law student and former housemate, Laura Tucker, wrote a Medium post in January in which she described being pressuring into having sex after a night of drinking in 2013.

“I remember that I made a point of clearly saying ‘no’ and ‘I don’t want to do this,'” Tucker wrote. “Although I can’t remember what else I said, I clearly remember feeling confused and dismayed that he wasn’t leaving, or even moving, and that he didn’t seem to believe that I knew what I wanted.”

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times confirmed it had completed its inquiry and that Kaiman resigned. It declined to provide details of its findings, saying it was a personnel matter.

The charges against Kaiman came at a time when charges of sexual harassment and predatory behavior have toppled powerful figures in Hollywood and the media, including CBS CEO Les Moonves, The Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein and the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

“The voices of women are a crucial part of the equation when it comes to combatting sexual misconduct. But the response of institutions is another essential part,” said Sonmez, who now works as a reporter with The Washington Post. “In the case of the L.A. Times’ handling of this situation, several questions remain unanswered. The newspaper has not been transparent about the results of its investigation. It has not made clear whether Mr. Kaiman was fired or resigned voluntarily. And it has not addressed questions about the extent of its knowledge of Mr. Kaiman’s actions in January and its decision not to further investigate at the time.”

Kaiman issued a statement on Twitter, in which he disputed Sonmez’s account, saying his experience of that night “differs fundamentally” from hers. Nonetheless, he said he was “genuinely sorry” for any pain he caused the women, whom he said he regarded as close friends.

“I’d also like to note that the allegations against me involved no violence, threats, coercion, or power imbalance of any kind,” Kaiman wrote. “Yet they have irrevocably destroyed my reputation, my professional network, my nine year career in journalism, and any hope for a rewarding career in the future; they have branded me with a scarlet letter for life, and driven me to the brink of suicide.”

Here’s his full statement:

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