Those who filed EEOC case against Jaeger react to investigation results

Jan 11, 2018

Following the release of an independent investigation on Thursday about the handling of sexual harassment allegations against University of Rochester Professor Florian Jaeger, those who had filed the complaint with a federal agency expressed disappointment, frustration and anger.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

In their statements at a Thursday evening news conference, many of those who filed the complaint expressed confusion with the fact that the report released by the independent investigator, Mary Jo White,  maintained their claims that Jaeger's behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional but did not cross any legal boundaries. That includes Celeste Kidd who worked with Jaeger.

"The report admits that he blurred professional boundaries with sexual banter and crossing lines. This made me feel uncomfortable, and 15 others. It was unwanted. They admit that people left the lab because of it. The report describes Florian Jaeger as the predator that I know him to be." Jaeger has denied the allegations.

Former Chair of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department Elissa Newport, said everyone at the news conference Thursday night had a passion for the school, and poured their heart into the work - that’s why they felt the urgent need to address their concerns.

She believes Jaeger took advantage of his role as professor.

"Florian Jaeger exploited that environment and figured out how to exploit the students who interacted with him socially and the environment that we created. And now I’m sorry to say I think the department is dead."

Their attorney Ann Olivarius added if the alleged behaviors in the EEOC complaint don’t fall under what is considered sexual harassment, what does?

Some of those filing the complaint believe the findings in the report  were the result of what they say was millions of dollars the school paid to conduct the investigation. They are following through with a lawsuit  in federal court. 

Shortly after the report was made public, UR President Joel Seligman announced he was resigning. The university says he tendered his resignation earlier in the day before he or the board saw the report.

Richard Aslin, a former professor in the BCS department said this justified their work.

"President Seligman’s resignation is at least some vindication that what we were doing was right and the response from the university was wrong."

Seligman’s resignation will be effective February 28th.