LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – On the same day that Tronc sold the Los Angeles Times, the company Wednesday also cleared the newspaper’s former publisher of wrongdoing in several sexual harassment allegations.
Tronc announced it has reinstated former L.A. Times publisher and CEO Ross Levinsohn as CEO of its newly created digital division, Tribune Interactive.
“Following an independent investigation and a report to the Board of Directors finding no wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Levinsohn, the Board determined to reinstate Mr. Levinsohn and appoint him Chief Executive Officer of Tribune Interactive,” Tronc said in a news release.
Levinsohn had been on unpaid leave since January, when a National Public Radio story detailed two sexual harassment lawsuits that named Levinsohn while he worked at Alta Vista and News Corp, as well as complaints from employees who said he fostered a fraternity-like atmosphere. Both lawsuits were settled for undisclosed amounts.
That story broke one day before the Times newsroom voted to unionize.
One of the sexual harassment lawsuits named Levinsohn and other executives at internet search engine Alta Vista, NPR reported. In testimony, Levinsohn acknowledged that when he was a vice president there in 2001 he rated the relative “hotness” of female colleagues during office banter with other male employees, and speculated aloud about whether a woman who worked for him was a stripper on the side.
Another lawsuit, filed in 2007, alleged that Levihnson and other executives at News Corp., then the parent company of several Fox television properties, allowed a culture of sexual harassment to flourish.
Former colleagues also told NPR that in 2013 Levinsohn used a gay slur to describe the crowd at a luncheon for Hollywood stylists to an executive at the Hollywood Reporter.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong would purchase the L.A. Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million in cash plus $90 million in pension liabilities. Soon-Shiong is a major shareholder in Tronc.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)