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University of Rochester Faces Lawsuit for Mishandling Sexual Harassment Case

The nine plaintiffs allege the university’s actions put women at risk.

Dec 11, 2017
Shawna Williams

WIKIMEDIA, TOMWSULCERA former graduate student and eight current or former faculty members filed a lawsuit on Friday (December 8) against the University of Rochester for its handling of allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior by cognitive sciences professor Florian Jaeger.

Jaeger’s alleged behavior first became public this September, when the plaintiffs in the current lawsuit filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating that he had sexual relationships with multiple students, demeaned female students, and had taken credit for others’ work. According to the complaint, the university had retaliated against those critical of the behavior rather than hold Jaeger accountable. Mother Jones published an extensive account of the allegations, and later, hundreds of faculty members around the world signed a petition calling for reform at the university.

See “Dealing with Unethical or Illegal Conduct in Higher Education

Jaeger is currently on administrative leave as the university conducts a third investigation, but the lawsuit states he “continues to work at [his department], move around campus and interact with students and faculty apparently as if nothing has happened.” Nature reports that the current investigators have collected information from more than 100 people, but the lawsuit’s plaintiffs have declined to speak. “It’s not a safe process for us to participate in,” Jessica Cantlon, a faculty member in Jaeger’s department, tells the publication.

When asked for comment, a university spokeswoman issued a written statement to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle saying, in part, “We will not comment on any matter that we have not had a chance to review, and we currently plan to withhold comment until the completion of the independent investigation commissioned by a special committee of the University of Rochester’s Board of Trustees.”

“Our complaint goes beyond the bad actions of a single faculty member and includes the aggressive actions of university leaders who protect harassers and silence victims,” Cantlon tells the Democrat & Chronicle. The university’s “hostile approach to sexual harassment complaints puts so many women at risk,” she says.

Also last week, a former mentee filed a lawsuit against tobacco control researcher Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, for sexual harassment, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

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