University of Rochester president resigns after controversial handling of sexual harassment complaint

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"It is not acceptable to say that people have behaved offensively and inappropriately to our students, but nobody did anything wrong". That is not acceptable; it is not an acceptable conclusion to arrive at.

UR properly addressed the workplace sexual conduct of Professor T. Florian Jaeger, though it could have done better, according to a long-awaited investigation report released Thursday. "Here we are in a situation in which she says students suffered experiences they never should have had to endure", said former department chair Elissa Newport, one of the complainants.

The private western NY university's Board of Trustees appointed the committee in September to look into allegations made in complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

His conduct was at times "inappropriate", "blurred personal and professional boundaries", and "created a negative academic environment for some BCS students", but was "permitted by UR policy" at the time.

Research professor Florian Jaeger made national headlines past year after allegations arose that he had harassed and engaged in sexual relationships with his students. The professors argue that this is a fatal flaw.

In a joint complaint, at least four Rochester students alleged that the university didn't do enough to protect them from Jaeger, noting that the professor was promoted in the midst of an investigation into his behavior. Partner Mary Jo White, a former US attorney, said Thursday during an on-campus news conference that students suffered under Jaeger.

Complainant Celeste Kidd criticized White for including private messages and emails which Kidd said were taken out of context and said White misstated some of her claims. "We don't think there's a claim there under those laws", she said.

"Jaeger engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, unprofessional and offensive", the report said.

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In a statement, Jaeger apologized to his students and colleagues for the "distress and disruption" that his behavior and the resulting investigations caused, adding: "This report does not exonerate me, but neither does it give merit to numerous worst accusations made against me". An earlier version of this article stated that U of R's policy on intimate relationships between faculty and students is as strict as Stanford's.

Instead, Thursday brought another, unexpected announcement: President Joel Seligman (right) will resign, effective February 28.

Nevertheless, university President Joel Seligman announced he would resign next month so that a new leader can focus on healing the campus, a task which may be complicated because the complainants have vowed to continue their fight in court.

In a statement, Rochester's trustees praised Seligman and said he notified them of his resignation before they - or anyone else - had received the independent investigators' report.

"We Trustees express our heartfelt apology to anyone who was hurt by the actions of any University employee, or who felt intimidated, excluded, or harassed", the board said in a statement to The News.

The board of trustees said it had "many serious decisions to make in the days ahead".

The allegations against Jaeger were first raised publicly by a group of faculty members last September, after they filed their EEOC complaints. The report brought no closure or justice, she said.

"Your investigation is structurally unable to get evidence from the main actors in the stories you are trying to reconstruct", the complainants' lawyer, Ann Olivarius, wrote to White in November. Seligman's departure is only further "confirmation that our actions were justified", he said.

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