'Tehelka' Tejpal steps down, admitting sexual misconduct

NDTV, NEW DELHI | 20 November 2013 23:53 IST

Tarun Tejpal, the Editor in Chief of Tehelka, has stepped down for six months after being accused of sexual assault by a woman journalist who works with the weekly magazine.

A person close to the journalist alleged that she had been subjected to "an act of grave sexual misconduct" and said she was "emotionally shattered."

"She is a victim of sexual harassment....It happened over two days...She pleaded to Tejpal that she was his daughter's age," the journalist's confidante alleged.   

She also said the journalist was "not satisfied" with Mr Tejpal's apology and offer to recuse himself and wants Tehelka to set up a committee to look into sexual harassment. 

In an e-mail to the magazine's Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhury, Mr Tejpal wrote: "A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for. I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further." 

He added, "I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months."

Ms Chaudhury forwarded Mr Tejpal's mail to Tehelka employees this evening and wrote: "There has been an untoward incident, and though he has extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved, Tarun will be recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months."

In statement to NDTV, Ms Chaudhury said the journalist was "satisfied with the action taken". 

She described it as an "internal matter" and said Tarun Tejpal was recusing himself "in keeping with the principles of right response and standards that we want to live by."

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