LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Times publisher and Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn has been cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation into his conduct, and he will move into a new role within the paper's parent company, Tronc.
Levinsohn has been on unpaid leave since Jan. 19 following a report by National Public Radio that he was the defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits. NPR said Levinsohn engaged in "frat-boy" behavior when he was an executive at other media companies, including speculating whether one former subordinate moonlighted as a stripper.
Tronc said Wednesday that Levinsohn will become chief executive of Tribune Interactive, a business unit that Tronc plans to form following the sale of The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.
Tronc separately announced the $500-million agreement to sell The Times and Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong's investment firm, Nant Capital. That deal is expected to close in March or April, Tronc said.
The Chicago company also announced that Levinsohn would be returning to Tronc after the nearly three-week review.
"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," the company said in a statement.
Levinsohn will report to Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn, the company said.
"We are pleased that Ross will be back to work," Dearborn said in a statement. "We have great confidence in him and the team to deliver value for our shareholders through growing digital audiences for our award-winning journalism, new creative content and product initiatives, and growing digital and diversified revenue streams."
Levinsohn will be joined at Tribune Interactive by the team he brought to the Los Angeles Times, including Mickie Rosen, who will serve as president of Tribune Interactive, and Lewis D'Vorkin, who will be chief content officer. D'Vorkin, a former top editor at Forbes, was removed as Los Angeles Times editor-in-chief last week after a rocky three-month tenure marked by a contentious relationship with the newsroom.
D'Vorkin was replaced by veteran Chicago journalist Jim Kirk. Tronc did not say whether it would appoint an interim publisher until the sale of The Times is finalized.