The Los Angeles Times suspended its Beijing bureau chief amid allegations he groped a fellow journalist against her will and later had sex with her after they got drunk at a party, the paper said Wednesday.
Jonathan Kaiman, 31, was accused of “problematic behavior” during the September incident in a letter sent to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China on Monday by Felicia Sonmez, 35.
“When I later asked him his recollections of this part of the night, he said that things were hazy but he acknowledged that he had been ‘brutish’ with me,” Sonmez wrote.
“He briefly performed oral sex on me and then he had unprotected sex with me. 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.”
Sonmez, who now lives in Washington, DC, was an editor for the Wall Street Journal at the time. Her claims were first reported by the Hong Kong Free Press.
LA Times Editor-in-Chief Jim Kirk said the paper “takes these accusations seriously and is investigating.”
In a statement, Kaiman told The Times that “all of the acts we engaged in were mutually consensual.”
“My perception and Ms. Sonmez’s perception of that night’s events differ greatly,” he said.
“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.”
In January, Kaiman resigned as president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China after a former roommate publicly accused him of pressuring her into sex in 2013.
In an essay posted on the “Medium” Web site, Laura Tucker wrote that she and Kaiman returned from drinking at a nightclub and were making out on her bed when “I changed my mind and decided I didn’t want to continue.”
“I remember that he made me feel very pressured and very awkward, like it was too late to back out,” she wrote.
“We had sex, and and I felt gross for all of it.”
Following publication of Tucker’s account, Kaiman told her on Twitter: “I am so, so deeply sorry — I did not in any way mean to pressure you into an unwanted or uncomfortable sexual encounter, and I thought we had talked through the issue as peers and friends.”
“However, I very clearly didn’t understand the extent of your feelings. I’m sorry I caused you pain, as that was never my intention,” he added.