- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Washington Post walked back Tuesday its suspension of a reporter over her tweets following the death of Kobe Bryant, concluding that she was not in “clear and direct” violation of the company’s policies.

The newspaper touched off an outcry after placing national reporter Felicia Sonmez on administrative leave after she tweeted Sunday a 2016 Daily Beast article about the 2003 sexual-assault allegations against Mr. Bryant.

“After conducting an internal review, we have determined that, while we consider Felicia’s tweets ill-timed, she was not in clear and direct violation of our social media policy,” said managing editor Tracy Grant in a statement.

Ms. Sonmez said she was hit with thousands of angry responses, including death threats, after she tweeted out the article, headlined, “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.”

In her statement, Ms. Grant said the newspaper regretted its initial statement on the suspension. Among those who decried the Post’s decision were the Washington Post Newspaper Guild and more than 200 staffers.

“Reporters on social media represent The Washington Post, and our policy states ‘we must be ever mindful of preserving the reputation of The Washington Post for journalistic excellence, fairness and independence,” said her statement. “We consistently urge restraint, which is particularly important when there are tragic deaths. We regret having spoken publicly about a personnel matter.”

Mr. Bryant, 41, was killed Sunday in the crash with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, in Calabasas, California.

In 2003, prosecutors in Eagle, Colorado, dropped rape charges against Mr. Bryant, then 24, after his 19-year-old accuser declined to testify against him. He maintained that the sexual contact was consensual, and later settled a civil lawsuit with the accuser on undisclosed terms.

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