Report on investigation into University Rochester released

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) – After a three month investigation, former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White said the investigation into the University of Rochester found that nothing illegal happened.

The report reads:

At the most relevant times of the allegations, UR policies strongly discouraged, but did not then prohibit: (1) consensual intimate relationships between faculty and students, including with undergraduate and graduate students over whom the faculty member had academic authority; or (2) sexual or romantic relationships between supervisors and their employees who are not married or cohabitating. All forms of sexual harassment, as defined in UR Policy 106, were, however, prohibited throughout the relevant period.

During the investigation, 140 witnesses were interviewed, however, many of the complainants in the EEOC complaint did not participate.

White said the investigation substantiated some, but not all of the allegations against Florian Jaeger and the University. She also said that some allegations were proven to be untrue.

White said that while Jaeger’s behavior may have been inappropriate, unprofessional, or offensive, it did not violate University policy or federal law.

She also said Jaeger did not condition academic participation or performance on submission to sexual advances. In interviews with witnesses, none of the four students who had sexual relationships with Jaeger said that any such demand existed.

White also said that UR did not handle the allegations improperly and that the university did not retaliate against the complainants in the EEOC complaint.

Having said that, White also said that the University did have some missteps in their investigation. These missteps included promoting Jaeger before the investigation was complete, sharing personal emails, and the fact that President Seligman did not intervene and perhaps should have.

In her recommendations to the University, White said UR should consider a more restrictive policy on faculty and student relationships.

White concluded the report with the following statement:

Over the past three and a half months, we have conducted a thorough and objective
independent investigation. Our investigation has substantiated a number of allegations in the
complaints, not substantiated others and refuted some. This Report gives a full accounting of our
work, findings and recommendations. It was a very difficult, and at times wrenching,
undertaking. We credit that some BCS students were negatively impacted by the professor’s
conduct earlier in his career at the University. Partly as a result of that conduct, but also because
of the broad dissemination of the often exaggerated descriptions of that conduct, the esteemed
BCS faculty has been fractured and the University’s reputation has been harmed. This case
illustrates once again that a community can be damaged when public discourse on important
issues fails to separate rumor from fact, to distinguish between different levels of wrongful
conduct, and to apply a sense of proportionality in the consideration of how prior conduct should
be remediated.

There are a lot of facts to absorb from our Report about these events. Once that is done,
it is important to look beyond the specifics and details of this matter and turn toward the future.
In our view, the University and all involved here now have a unique opportunity to make such
amends as can be made, heal and work hard to become the thought and moral leader for the
academic community in preventing and dealing fairly with allegations of sexual harassment and
all forms of discrimination in the academic workplace. Set the bar and set it high. “Ever
Better” is what UR is about. 

University pf Rochester president Joel Seligman announced in a letter to UR Alumni Thursday that he will resign as president effective Feb. 28. Seligman said in the email that his decision took place before he or any member of the Board of Trustees received the Mary Jo White report.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served the University of Rochester for the last twelve and a half years. I am grateful to everyone who has served with me and am proud of the progress we have made together. I have worked tirelessly on the University’s behalf, motivated by a single overriding criterion: What is in the best interest of the University of Rochester?” Seligman wrote in his letter.

“It is clear to me that the best interests of the University are best served with new leadership, and a fresh perspective to focus on healing our campus and moving us forward in a spirit of cooperation and unity. I will look forward to working with the interim President when that person is named, and with a permanent President, once that person is identified after a search process,” he continued.

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