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LA Times Publisher Takes Unpaid Leave of Absence Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation

Move follows NPR report that Levinsohn ranked looks of female colleagues, used a vulgar term for gays and speculated about whether a colleague was a stripper

A day after he was placed under investigation following reports of inappropriate behavior, Los Angeles Times Publisher Ross Levinsohn is taking a leave of absence, the paper’s parent company Tronc Inc. announced on Friday afternoon.

“As of this morning, Ross Levinsohn has voluntarily agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence, effective immediately. The company has retained Sidley Austin LLP to conduct a review of the allegations regarding his behavior,” LA Times parent company Tronc, Inc. said in a company-wide email that was subsequently posted to Twitter by several of the paper’s reporters. Tronc referred TheWrap to that email when asked for comment.

On Thursday, Tronc placed Levinsohn under investigation after an NPR report that he admitted under oath to ranking the looks of female colleagues and discussing whether a colleague worked as a stripper, among other incidents. As TheWrap reported, he was not suspended at that time.

Levinsohn made anti-gay remarks at a 2013 event at SoHo House in West Hollywood, according to the NPR report.

“As my buddy said, why would I hang out with a bunch of ladies and fags?,” said Levinsohn, according to one The Hollywood Reporter editor at the event.

Two months later at a party in Las Vegas, Levinsohn “aggressively kissed a woman,” two eyewitnesses told NPR.

“I want to reemphasize to you all that the Company takes any allegations of inappropriate behavior by its employees very seriously,” said Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn in the Friday memo. “It is critical that in any such circumstances we conduct a thorough review so that we have a full understanding of what happened. We will not hesitate to take further action, if appropriate, once the review is complete.”

Dearborn added Mickie Rosen will lead the LA Times and Lewis D’Vorkin will lead the newsroom in Levinsohn’s absence.