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Washington Post lifts ban on reporter from covering sexual assault

Washington Post lifts ban on reporter from covering sexual assault
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The Washington Post on Monday lifted a ban on breaking news reporter Felicia Sonmez, which she says had barred her from covering stories related to sexual assault and harassment after she criticized newsroom leadership. 

Sonmez tweeted she had been informed by her editors that the ban was being lifted Monday afternoon. 

"This is good news, but it’s unfortunate that it had to come at such a high emotional toll, and after my distress was dismissed for years," she said in a tweet. "I’m taking time to rest and process. Thank you for your support." 

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On Sunday, Sonmez accused top editors at the paper of ignoring her concerns about the way she has been treated at the paper, specifically regarding a suspension she was handed after she tweeted about rape accusations against former NBA star Kobe Bryant soon after his death in a helicopter crash.

Sonmez faced harassment online after she alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by by another journalist before she was at the Post. 

After her one-day suspension for her tweets about Bryant was lifted, Sonmez demanded newsroom leadership explain the reasoning for punishing her.

"I faced no ban my first three months on the job. I wrote #MeToo-related stories with no problem. It was only once the Kavanaugh story broke in Sept. 2018 that the editors enacted one. It was lifted several months later, then reinstated in late 2019 when I was being attacked online after the publication of a story about the man who assaulted me," Sonmez said on Sunday. "The ban has been in place ever since, for more than a year now."

After she had gone public with accusations of sexual assault, Sonmez said, editors at the Post worried about the appearance of a potential conflict of interest when covering the topic.

During a company-wide Zoom call on March 16 meant to rally the newsroom following similar online attacks against another Post reporter, Seung Min Kim, Sonmez reportedly message the entire group saying: "I wish editors had publicly supported me in the same way,” according to Politico.

The Post did not return an inquiry seeking comment on Sonmez's criticism over the weekend or any efforts to keep her off stories related to sexual violence. 

Updated Wednesday at 7:22 a.m.