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Seligman, complainants respond to EEOC complaint

In the 113-page document, Jaeger, a professor in the department of brain and cognitive sciences, is accused of a decade-spanning pattern of sexually manipulative behavior toward students, including consistent harassment, inappropriate parties and “lab retreats” and unethical sexual relationships with students. Previously, the University of Rochester had performed two investigations into Jaeger, one internal investigation and one external. In both cases, the University concluded no wrongdoing on Jaeger’s part.

The complaint was filed by doctors Richard Aslin, Brad Mahon, Celeste Kidd, Jessica Cantlon, Steven Piantadosi, Ben Hayden, Elissa Newport and Keturah Bixby.

Responding to the complaint via a memo sent to students on Monday, Sept. 11, Seligman urged students to not trust the media reports, comparing the filing to the 2014 Rolling Stone piece “A Rape on Campus.”

University of Rochester president Joel Seligman.

University of Rochester president Joel Seligman.

“Allegations are not facts, and as we saw in Rolling Stone’s withdrawn story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia, even established media outlets can get it wrong,” Seligman said in the memo.

Framed around an alleged 2012 gang rape at the University of Virginia’s chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, told from recollection of the victim, “A Rape On Campus,” turned out to be a fallacy, resulting in multi-million dollar lawsuits against Rolling Stone and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

The complainants, in a counterresponse, were quick to argue against this idea. Specifically, the allegations made by the complainants feature the accounts of 11 separate women, rather than just one.

“Just because Rolling Stone made an error in its story on the University of Virginia because it relied on a single source, which President Seligman cites in UR’s defense, does not mean the many faculty and students who have given witness statements supporting our complaint are all liars,” the response reads. “Nor are we.”

On the subject of the two investigations carried out on Jaeger, Seligman detailed a calculated series of 30 interviews and a lengthy review process beginning in March 2016. Interviewees, Seligman said, were given the opportunity to revise and retract statements, and the reports were ultimately reviewed by both the dean of the School of Medicine, the dean of Arts and Sciences and the provost. In all cases, no evidence of violation of the university’s code was found.

“The core allegations in the two Policy 106 complaints identified above, which were investigated, appealed and found to be unsubstantiated, are repeated and embellished in the EEOC complaint and the media story,” Seligman said. “We are confident in the integrity of our investigations, and we stand by our findings.”

The complainants, again, counter this statement, arguing that the process of investigation allegedly violated their privacy and created a hostile work environment following the claims made against Jaeger.

“Our university emails have been secretly combed by university lawyers trying to find things to embarrass us—is this how universities are supposed to operate when professors raise questions about sexual harassment? We have been denounced as liars and untrustworthy at a faculty meeting by our department chair, based on a misreading of those emails,” the statement reads. “Some of us have been forced to leave the University.  Those who remain have been systematically ostracized. The President has ignored all of this.”

Seligman said the university is preparing a response to the EEOC complaint.

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