The Los Angeles Times said Tuesday that it was suspending Jonathan Kaiman, its Beijing bureau chief, amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
The move followed accusations against Mr. Kaiman by a fellow journalist, Felicia Sonmez, who outlined what she said was “problematic behavior” by Mr. Kaiman during an encounter in September. Those accusations were put into a letter addressed to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, of which Mr. Kaiman was president until January.
In the letter, Ms. Sonmez described being repeatedly groped by Mr. Kaiman without her consent, being pushed up against a wall and eventually feeling pressured into sex after a night of drinking.
“Even though parts of the evening were consensual, while on the way, Jon escalated things in a way that crossed a line,” Ms. Sonmez, who is a former member of the club’s board, wrote. She said that alcohol clouded her memory of exactly how she and Mr. Kaiman ended up having sex, and whether it was coerced.
Ms. Sonmez, who worked in Beijing for The Wall Street Journal, has since moved to the United States.
In response, Mr. Kaiman said, “My perception and Ms. Sonmez’s perception of that night’s events differ greatly. All of the acts we engaged in were mutually consensual.”
Ms. Sonmez is the second woman to come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Kaiman. In January, Laura Tucker, a law student and former housemate of his, accused him of pressuring her into sex during an encounter in 2013 after a night of drinking. “I explicitly voiced my lack of consent several times, and my words had no effect,” Ms. Tucker wrote in a post on the website Medium.
She described Mr. Kaiman’s behavior as including unwanted touching and said that parts of their encounter were consensual but that at some point things got out of control.
“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 knew I wanted,” wrote Ms. Tucker, who is also now in the United States.
The accusations have reverberated through Beijing’s close-knit community of foreign reporters and come amid a broader wave of accusations of sexual harassment, mostly by women, against powerful figures in the media in the United States, including Harvey Weinstein and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
After Ms. Tucker published the post in January, Mr. Kaiman resigned as president of the correspondents’ club. In a Twitter message to Ms. Tucker at the time, Mr. Kaiman said he was “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.”
On Tuesday, after Ms. Sonmez’s letter was widely circulated, The Los Angeles Times said it would investigate, adding that the paper “takes these allegations seriously.”
Mr. Kaiman was hired by The Los Angeles Times in 2015. He was an intern at The New York Times in 2011.
Mr. Kaiman declined to address the specific accusations, saying he was speaking with a lawyer. “I’ve been advised not to say more until the investigation is complete,” he said.
In her letter to the club, Ms. Sonmez also said she was disappointed with how it had handled Mr. Kaiman’s resignation. She said she had shared her accusations against him with another board member before Mr. Kaiman resigned.
The board allowed him to draft his own resignation, making it appear voluntary and making no mention of the fact that the accusations were severe enough for the board to determine he could no longer serve as president, Ms. Sonmez said.
In response, the club said it did not have the power to decide to remove Mr. Kaiman without calling a special meeting and holding a referendum among members to remove him.
“The board did not have full knowledge of the allegations when it made its decision,” the club said in a statement. “That, however, is not an excuse for its actions.”
Both Ms. Sonmez and Ms. Tucker said they were pleased that The Los Angeles Times was investigating their accusations.
“Whether it takes place in the U.S. or while on assignment abroad, sexual misconduct should never be tolerated by any news organization,” Ms. Sonmez said.
Ms. Tucker said she was “furious but unsurprised that my experience was not an isolated event.”