Investigation finds no illegal conduct by UR professor accused of sexual harassment

January 11, 2018 06:25 PM

An investigation into how the University of Rochester handled sexual misconduct allegations against a professor finds the university acted legally even though the professor at times may have acted inappropriately.

The independent investigation, launched following an EEOC complaint by a group of professors alleging sexual harassment, looked into the conduct of Professor Florian Jaeger and how the University of Rochester handled the allegations against him.

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A federal lawsuit, that followed the EEOC complaint, claimed the university mishandled allegations against Professor Florian Jaeger, who was cleared of wrongdoing by the university during initial investigations, and then retaliated against those who reported the behavior.

The independent investigation, headed by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White most cleared the university, saying Jaeger's conduct, though sometimes inappropriate, didn't rise to "the standard for sexual harassment as currently defined by law." Investigators also say they found no evidence of unlawful retaliation against the accusers.

Investigators said, "The complaints attempt to characterize virtually every action taken by UR in response to and in the aftermath of the March 2016 complaint as unlawful retaliation."

But, while investigators found no unlawful actions by Jaeger or the university, they say the professor's "conduct in the period before 2014 was, at times, reckless, immature and highly unprofessional." Investigators added, "It may have harmed the BCS and broader UR communities in a variety of ways, including by undermining the academic mission and harming UR's reputation among students, prospective students, the broader academic community, alumni and donors."

Last fall, following the release of the EEOC complaint against the university, students protested and called for changes. One student even made international headlines after she declared a hunger strike and called for Jaeger to be fired.

Thursday, despite the findings of the report, students we spoke with thought Jaeger should have faced punishment.

"I think he should be punished too because, if you’ve done it in the past, it’s still there, right?" second year business student Shashwati Brasad told us. "You’re tightening up your policies but you’re letting someone like that still teach... I don’t think it’s really right. He should be held accountable too.  Just tightening up the policy, that is for the future but what about someone who suffered in the past?"

"I understand that back, a couple of years ago, they weren’t policies in place and not a lot of laws that he was going against but there are still people who today and possibly in the future will be affected by his actions and there are consequences for your actions that you should still be held accountable for," added Samekh Harris, senior undergrad student.

Following the release of the report, UR President Joel Seligman announced he will step down next month.


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