Update: Thot resigns from The Reporters on Thursday.
BANGKOK — The head of an up-and-coming news organization on Wednesday said it suspended one of its reporters for a month due to allegations from women who accused him of rapes in university years.
Thapanee Eadsrichai, founder of The Reporters, posted online that the suspension is a preliminary response to the allegations, which surfaced after the reporter in question was profiled in an advertorial for the news agency.
“We have investigated all parties, especially the women who understand the feelings and the situations,” Thapanee wrote. “Although this happened in the past before he worked at The Reporters and it was not proven under the law, we want to show our moral responsibility.”
The suspension is effective immediately, Thapanee said.
The journalist, Thot Limsodsai, posted an apology on his Facebook, which stopped short of admitting to sexual assault. The statement also did not mention any specific actions.
“I thought about this for a long time because I didn’t want the situation to escalate. I was sad when I found out that my friend has always been emotionally affected. I cannot publicly detail what happened four years ago. I misunderstood what happened. I never had the chance to apologize, so I will apologize now.”
Thot’s background came under the spotlight after he was featured in The Reporters’ sponsored post on Humans of Bangkok, a popular Facebook page that regularly covers prominent individuals from all walks of life.
The post said Thot attended the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at Thammasat University, and included his testimony on how he first came to work under Thapanee.
“My professor taught me about media ethics, and said that the media is more than just storytellers, but we must check and balance the state. But the news I was reading online was all clickbait,” the post quoted him as saying.
The advertorial soon backfired, when a number of women began posting about Thot’s past, many of testimonials of which are published on Obsaimai Diary Facebook page.
In one of the accounts, a woman said that Thot raped her while she was drunk and crashing at his dorm, covering her mouth, beating her, and refusing to use protection.
“If we run into each other at a bar, he just says sorry, like how people say hi when running into each other. Instead, you say, ‘Oh, sorry I raped you that day,’” the post said. “I’m furious you spoke only about how good you are. Does P’Yam [Thapanee] know that she has a rapist as a reporter?”
Another woman alleged that Thot groped her at night when she was a second year university student.
“I want to vomit just thinking about the past. And I had to see him smirking and going on with his life happily. But the memory is seared into my heart. I have told very few people about this,” she wrote.
Although a one-month suspension may seem meagre by international standards – Thapanee did call it a “preliminary” action, however – most sexual assault allegations in Thailand are covered up or receive zero action from employers, especially in schools.
The incident also came just a few days after a university student spoke out about her experience of being sexually assaulted by her teacher when she was in high school. Her testimony was mostly dismissed by the pro-establishment camp, who took issue with her background as a part time model.