The special committee tasked with handling the investigation into University of Rochester professor Florian Jaeger has announced a detailed list of plans intended to keep the process unbiased.
The investigation, headed by Mary Jo White of Debevoise and Plimpton, aims at evaluating all information surrounding an equal employment opportunity commission complaint against Jaeger, a professor in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. The EEOC complaint, filed by eight present and former professors and graduate students, characterizes Jaeger as a “manipulative sexual predator” who used his position of power to coerce women into sex acts and academically or socially sabotaged those who did not accept his advances.
Two previous investigations into Jaeger, during one of which he was promoted to full professor, have been criticized for alleged conflict of interest, bias and willful omission of evidence. Faculty involved with the EEOC complaint also claimed a policy of retaliation by the school against those who came forward.
With this in mind, the committee has opted to add one graduate student and one faculty member to the special committee, in hopes of ensuring a fair and transparent investigation. The committee has advised that these new members will be well-respected members of the community who are completely independent of the issue.
In addition, as White’s third-party investigation is carried out, the committee has vowed to stay completely separate, allowing White full access to witnesses, documents and any other information available without any intervention. Previous investigations were criticized by students and faculty for not taking into account texts, Facebook messages and emails from Jaeger. In some of these messages to complainant Celeste Kidd, Jaeger is shown saying he moved to Rochester for the “legendary naked hot tub parties,” as well as describing romantic images of his and Kidd’s future.
The committee will not have early access to the investigation findings and will not be able to advise any changes. With a deadline of Dec. 31, the document will be released to the public the same day as the committee receives it.
“In a short period of time, the Special Committee has retained a world-class investigator with an unimpeachable reputation with no prior relationship to anyone on the University’s staff, is preparing to round out the committee with qualified individuals representing important constituencies and has developed a plan that will ensure the findings are complete, untouched and transparent,” said Committee Chairman Rich Handler, in a statement. “This has been accomplished because the University has empowered this committee to be completely independent and allow the legal team to establish the truth in this important matter.”
White, a former chairwoman for the Securities and Exchange Commission, is not new to investigations of sexual misconduct, having led the 2004 investigation into Albany Roman Catholic Bishop Howard Hubbard. The investigation did not find sufficient evidence against Hubbard. White’s Debevoise and Plimpton firm specializes in assisting corporate entities under government investigation. The special committee, meanwhile, is tasked with conducting an extensive review of the university’s sexual assault and harassment policies.
Pending the results of the investigation, Jaeger has been placed on administrative leave.