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Students rally against UR professor accused of sexual harassment

September 13, 2017 06:42 PM

University of Rochester students are calling for action after a group of professors submitted an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint accusing a colleague of sexual harassment.

In the EEOC filing, Dr. Florian Jaeger faces accusations that he used his position of power to carry on sexual relationships with students.

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The professors claim the UR administration has not fully investigated the issues or appropriately disciplined the accused professor.

In a message to the school's Board of Trustees, former University of Rochester professors Dr. Richard N. Aslin and Dr. Elissa Newport say Dr. Jaeger "engaged in sexual harassment and has created a hostile environment for graduate students, and for retaliating against those of us who filed and pursued a complaint through university procedures."

At a protest on Wednesday, students want the university to get rid of Dr. Jaeger. One student told News10NBC that reading the filing and reports was difficult.

"I couldn't finish it," student Alexis Ross told News10NBC at the protest. "It's horrifying, it's unacceptable. It's just mind-blowing that the university doesn't see the single story and say, 'Okay, things have to change."

In response to the allegations, the university tells News10NBC that Dr. Florian is not teaching any classes this year.  They add that they have investigated the situation and could not substantiate any of the allegations used in the complaint.

After the story broke, the university issued the following statement:

"The University of Rochester's Office of Counsel recently received the complaint and is currently reviewing it and preparing a response to the EEOC, in keeping with EEOC procedures regarding complaints of this nature.

"We understand that those not familiar with the investigation conducted would find the language in the complaint deeply disturbing. However, the core allegations in this complaint were thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated. We are highly confident in the integrity of these investigations—we followed our processes for fair investigations and due process for all involved, interviewing dozens of witnesses whose names were given to us as alleged victims. Through two separate investigations — one by an internal investigator and one conducted by an external investigator—no violation of the law or University policy was found.

"We believe that the 100-plus page complaint document represents a narrative that is largely based on hearsay that was not substantiated in our investigations or in the subsequent appeals, and ignores factual evidence.

"The University is firmly committed to fostering a supportive and safe learning and working environment and to full compliance with all anti-discrimination laws. This includes enforcing our policy that prohibits retaliation against any member of our community who comes forward with a complaint or participates in the investigative process.  We will vigorously defend against the allegations in this complaint in the proper manner."

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