Community & Education LGBTQ & Gender SinoBeat

Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief apologises over sexual misconduct allegation

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China president and Los Angeles Times Beijing Bureau Chief Jonathan Kaiman has publicly apologised after he was accused of sexual misconduct by a former friend.

Foreign journalists in China called for Kaiman to respond publicly after law student Laura Tucker posted an account on Thursday of an incident from 2013, in which she felt Kaiman had pressured her into having sex with him.

Tucker, who became friends with Kaiman when she moved to Beijing in 2011 – and is now based in the US – wrote that, after going to a nightclub with a group of friends, she and Kaiman went back to her apartment. They started to become intimate but – after a few minutes – she decided she did not want to continue and told him she wanted to stop, she wrote.

Jon Kaimen

Jonathan Kaiman. Photo: Medium/Twitter screenshot.

“I was pressured into sex by an opportunistic friend. I explicitly voiced my lack of consent several times, and my words had no effect. Jon did not listen to me, did not respect my wishes or my space, and wasn’t open to the evening ending another way.”

According to Tucker, Kaiman made no move to get up from the bed, and acted as if he did not believe that she knew what she wanted, though she had said “no” and “I don’t want to do this.”

“I remember that he made me feel very pressured and very awkward, like it was too late to back out,” she wrote.

At that point, she said that she felt “the next form of resistance would have been to yell at him, or to call somebody, or to leave the apartment.” She ultimately decided that the “easiest, least confrontational way forward was to place male satisfaction above my own desires and to go back to the bed… We had sex, and I felt gross for all of it.”

A friend of Tucker’s who wished to remain anonymous corroborated her account to HKFP, saying that Tucker told her the story days after it occurred. She said, at the time, Tucker was upset by the incident and felt betrayed by Kaiman, who was her first friend in Beijing: “She was distraught about the situation… But – the way she told it then and the way she tells it now – is she spent a considerable amount of time getting him to leave and he just wouldn’t leave.”

‘Deeply sorry’

Kaiman tweeted on Thursday afternoon in response to Tucker’s allegation.

“@laura_tucker, 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. It would be wrong for me to think I could offer any remedy or solution here, but if you’d like to talk — either directly or through an intermediary — or anything else, please let me know.”

jon kaiman

An email exchange between Tucker and Kaiman. Photo: Screenshot/Medium.

Tucker wrote that, after the incident, she awoke feeling very angry and sent him an email. Shortly afterwards Kaiman called her and apologised, but Tucker wrote that – later – when they met up to talk about it, he tried to renege on his apology and turned the conversation into a debate about how much she shared the blame.

“I very clearly remember near the end of our conversation he said: ‘I don’t think this makes me a monster.’ But I had never accused him of being a monster, and suddenly the whole discussion felt pointless.”

Journalists at the Washington Post, Financial Times and Agence France-Press were among those on Twitter calling for Kaiman and the FCC to respond on Thursday.

Tucker said she shared her story as the incident returned to the front of her mind in October – when the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment swept through the west, as she wanted to add her voice to the broader outcry against sexual misconduct.

Los Angeles Times Beijing bureau chief apologises over sexual misconduct allegation