Los Angeles Times fires reporter, admits error in 3 stories

File: Deflated balloons hang from a tree outside the entrance to the Los Angeles Times building on July 10, 2013 in Los Angeles.
File: Deflated balloons hang from a tree outside the entrance to the Los Angeles Times building on July 10, 2013 in Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

Update March 19: Occidental College posted a statement with its own account of its relationship with the Los Angeles Times and fired reporter Jason Felch on its official website earlier this week.

Among the details Oxy revealed:

In the days following the Dec. 7 story, Occidental spokesman [Jim] Tranquada protested to Felch that the article was unfair and asked for specific documentation supporting The Times’ finding of the supposed 27 unreported cases. Felch refused to explain and then told Tranquada: “I think you’re lying and I’m going to prove it.” ...

Previously: The Los Angeles Times dismissed an investigative reporter Friday after discovering he had an inappropriate relationship with someone who was a source for a front-page story that the newspaper says contained an error.

Times Editor Davan Maharaj said Jason Felch's relationship with a source and his failure to disclose the relationship constituted "a professional lapse of the kind that no news organization can tolerate."

"Our credibility depends on our being a neutral, unbiased source of information — in appearance as well as in fact," he said.

An editor's note that appeared on the newspaper's website did not identify the source.

Felch said in a statement that the story was published weeks before the relationship began, and that he stopped relying upon the person as a source during the relationship. He believed he was fired for creating the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"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," Felch said.

Felch's Dec. 7 article said Occidental College didn't disclose 27 alleged sex assaults in 2012, as it should have under a federal law requiring campuses to publish serious crime reports on or near campus. The Times said a review found that the incidents did not meet the law's disclosure requirements for a variety of reasons.

The error was repeated in two subsequent stories, the Times said.

Felch said his article was based upon a confidential complaint now being investigated by federal authorities and that the allegation was supported by other documents and interviews.

In 2006, he and former Times reporter Ralph Frammolino were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting for exposing the role of the J. Paul Getty Museum and other American museums in the black market for looted antiquities.