LA Times suspends Beijing bureau chief amid misconduct probe
The Los Angeles Times suspended the head of its Beijing bureau on Wednesday after he was accused of sexual misconduct for a second time.
The newspaper has launched an investigation into allegations against Jonathan Kaiman made by a former Wall Street Journal editor, the paper said. Kaiman, who was hired by the LA Times in China in 2015, was accused of sexual misconduct by another woman in January.
Felicia Sonmez, who has reported for the WSJ and Agence France-Presse in China, detailed what she called Kaiman’s “problematic behavior” in an email shared with the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China on Tuesday night.
In her email, Sonmez recounted her experiences with Kaiman following a summer party hosted by the FCCC last September. “Even though parts of the evening were consensual,” Sonmez wrote, “Jon escalated things in a way that crossed the line.”
Kaiman said in a statement that “all of the acts we engaged in were mutually consensual.”
According to Sonmez, she and Kaiman were both “quite drunk” when she drove Kaiman home on her electric scooter. On the way, Sonmez said, Kaiman lifted up her dress and sexually touched her without her consent.
“It took me repeatedly telling him no and pushing him away for him to finally stop,” she wrote, recounting that on two occasions Kaiman started taking off his shorts in public despite her protests.
Sonmez said she and Kaiman then engaged in intercourse in his apartment.
“I am devastated by the fact that I was not more sober so that I could say with absolute certainty whether what happened that night was rape,” she said.
Kaiman said he remembers the night differently.
“My perception and Ms Sonmez’s perception of that night’s events differ greatly,” he said in his statement. “It’s unfortunate that, in hindsight, she feels the way she does about that night. I am a proponent of women’s rights and believe that every woman has a right to be heard and to tell her truth.”
Sonmez, who now lives in Washington, DC, said she was “heartened to hear that the LA Times is taking this matter seriously.”
“Whether it takes place in the US or while on assignment abroad, sexual misconduct should never be tolerated by any news organization,” she said. “I urge the newspaper to conduct a full investigation of all of the allegations against Jon Kaiman.”
Laura Tucker, a former roommate of Kaiman’s, said in an online post this January that he pressured her to have sex in 2013. At the time the post was published, Kaiman was the president of the FCCC. He apologized to Tucker on Twitter and resigned from his FCCC position.