Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Of Rochester's sexual misconduct probe, but president to resign

Of Rochester's sexual misconduct probe, but president to resign

Last month, the group that filed the EEOC complaints followed up with a lawsuit against UR, its provost, and Seligman. "It is not acceptable to say people have behaved offensively and inappropriately to our students, but nobody did anything wrong". That is not acceptable; it is not an acceptable conclusion to arrive at.

Lattimore Hall at the River Campus of the University of Rochester.


The report largely cleared the university and the professor of outright violations of the policy, but it did call for more robust procedures for investigating claims of sexual harassment against faculty members. It says that he's received enthusiastic support from many of his students, especially in recent years.

White was hired by a special committee constituted in September 2017 by the university's Board of Trustees to investigate the original complaints made to the university in 2013 and 2016 and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in August 2017 against Jaeger, how the university investigated them, and whether complainants experienced retribution from university officials.

White stressed that her report evaluated sexual harassment through a legal lens. The professors argue that this is a fatal flaw. In identical filings, seven current and former professors and a graduate student in the university's prestigious brain and cognitive sciences department-including Time "Silence Breakers" Celeste Kidd and Jessica Cantlon-claimed that the university had mishandled a 2016 internal investigation into the the behavior of another one of its professors, Jaeger, and found him not responsible for violating university policy. Partner Mary Jo White, a former USA attorney, said Thursday during an on-campus news conference that students suffered under Jaeger. The fact that she did not find it occurred in Jaeger's case "is a legal conclusion, not a moral or social judgment", she said.

"Jaeger engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, unprofessional and offensive", the report said.

White's team, though, still did not find evidence that female graduate students had been subjected to a hostile work or academic environment since 2014, after the university revised its policy on faculty-student relationships.

Instead, Thursday brought another, unexpected announcement: President Joel Seligman (right) will resign, effective February 28. Aslin himself had resigned from the university in protest.

WIKIMEDIA, TOMWSULCEROn the heels of an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against a University of Rochester professor, the college's president, Joel Seligman, has elected to leave his post.

In a statement, Rochester's trustees praised Seligman and said he notified them of his resignation before they - or anyone else - had received the independent investigators' report.

Jaeger issued a statement of apology this week. The faculty members plan to respond later in the day. The report brought no closure or justice, she said.

Yet numerous complainants and their lawyer, Ann Olivarius, a senior partner at the law firm McAllister Olivarius in Maidenhead, U.K., challenged the new report vigorously at a late-afternoon press conference in Rochester. Seligman's departure is only further "confirmation that our actions were justified", he said. Because of the pending legal case, they declined to participate in interviews with White's investigators. "They came after us and they're coming after us now by paying $4.5 million to a legal defense firm".

Seth Pollak, a distinguished professor of psychology and professor of anthropology, pediatrics, psychiatry and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who signed the open letter against advising students to work or study at Rochester, said Thursday that he hoped Seligman's resignation was a step in the right direction for the campus.

"The report describes Florian Jaeger", Kidd said, "as the predator I know him to be".

"How many cases does it take to meet a threshold of pervasive?" he asked.

"It was a very hard, and at times, wrenching, undertaking", White, who was hired by the university to independently investigate the matter, wrote in her report. In academe, he said, "one can be promoted and still be treated badly in one's department". "At least in hindsight, however, there are aspects of the initial University investigation that could have been done differently, and better".

Like this: