LAT fires investigative reporter after disclosure of ‘inappropriate relationship’ with source

Los Angeles Times | Associated Press

The Los Angeles Times fired investigative reporter Jason Felch after he disclosed he had “engaged in an inappropriate relationship” with someone who was a source for a Dec. 7 story on Occidental College’s handling of sexual assault allegations.

Times Editor Davan Maharaj fired Felch on Friday. The Times noted:

Maharaj said the inappropriate relationship with a source and the failure to disclose it earlier constituted “a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate.”

He added: “Our credibility depends on our being a neutral, unbiased source of information — in appearance as well as in fact.”

The Times made the firing known while correcting errors in three Occidental College-related stories. The paper said the stories erroneously reported that the college failed to report 27 alleged sexual assaults in 2012 as required by the federal Cleary Act.

The college approached the paper for a correction and the Times reviewed documents showing the 27 cases did not fall under the disclosure requirement, the paper said. Some were sexual harassment cases or inappropriate text messages, which are not covered by the act.

The Associated Press said Felch issued a statement in which the reporter asserted the Dec. 7 story ran weeks before the relationship began and that he stopped using the source during their relationship.

While he issued a mea culpa: “I accept full responsibility for what I did and regret the damage it has done to my family and my colleagues at one of the nation’s great newspapers,” he also said he thought he was fired for the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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