Former Times Houston Bureau Chief James McKinley Jr. Back in New York

In this March 8, 2011 photo, trash sits outside an abandoned trailer in Cleveland, Texas where authorities say an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in November 2010. The arrest of four suspects means that 17 have now been accused in the sexual assault. The arrests include two players on Cleveland's state-ranked basketball team. A total of seven have been charged, as well as 10 other males no longer in school and ranging in age from 18 to 27. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) Photo: Pat Sullivan/AP2011

James McKinley Jr., the longtime Houston bureau chief for the Times who penned a controversial story about the alleged repeated rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas, back in March, is off the beat. At the time the Times' public editor claimed that McKinley's story "lacked balance," and eventually, later in March, McKinley had another go at it. He's back in New York and has been replaced in Houston by Manny Fernandez, who's been working there for about a month now. We talked to a spokeswoman at the Times who assured us that McKinley's transfer of beats — he's now covering the arts — was unrelated to the rape story. According to the paper, he was never on any sort of probation or punishment, and in fact had requested the transfer many months ago.