Ex-L.A. Times Beijing Bureau Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims


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BEIJING — A former Beijing bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times has resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

The journalist, Jonathan Kaiman, was suspended in May after accusations were made against him by two women. Hillary Manning, director of communications for The Times, confirmed Mr. Kaiman’s resignation in an email.

Felicia Sonmez, a fellow journalist in Beijing, accused Mr. Kaiman in May of “problematic behavior” in a letter addressed to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China. Mr. Kaiman was president of the club until January.

She was the second woman to come forward with accusations against Mr. Kaiman. In January, a law student and former housemate of Mr. Kaiman, Laura Tucker, accused him of pressuring her into a sexual encounter after a night of drinking.

Mr. Kaiman did not respond to a request for comment. In May, he disputed Ms. Sonmez’s characterizations and said that “all acts we engaged in were mutually consensual.”

The accusations by both women shook Beijing’s tight-knit community of foreign correspondents and shone a light on the sometimes bad behavior of male reporters abroad. It also came amid a broader wave of accusations of sexual harassment, mainly made by women against high-profile media figures including Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, and Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host.

“The phenomenon is not a problem unique to the press, but it’s one that’s especially problematic for journalists,” Joanna Chiu, a reporter based in Beijing at the time, wrote in an article soon after Ms. Sonmez’s accusations against Mr. Kaiman were made public.

Ms. Sonmez said on Tuesday that she was grateful to The Los Angeles Times for taking her allegations seriously but added that “several questions remained unanswered” about whether Mr. Kaiman was fired or resigned voluntarily.

“The voices of women are a crucial part of the equation when it comes to combating sexual misconduct. But the response of institutions is another essential part,” Ms. Sonmez wrote in an emailed statement.

In her letter to the F.C.C.C. this year, Ms. Sonmez described being repeatedly groped by Mr. Kaiman without her consent and being pressured into having sex after a night of drinking in September 2017. She also complained at the time about how the club handled Mr. Kaiman’s resignation.

Ms. Tucker made similar accusations of being pressured into a sexual encounter in 2013 by Mr. Kaiman.

“I explicitly voiced my lack of consent several times, and my words had no effect,” Ms. Tucker wrote at the time.

Follow Alexandra Stevenson on Twitter: @jotted.


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