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Federal lawsuit filed against University of Rochester following EEOC complaint

(Logo: U of R)

Rochester, N.Y. – A federal lawsuit has been filed by nine professors and students against the University of Rochester, President Joel Seligman and Provost Robert Clark.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, follows an EEOC complaint alleging sexual misconduct by Professor Florian Jaeger and the University’s refusal to take action on behalf of the victims.

This week, two of the nine people filing the lawsuit were named “Silence Breakers” in TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year Award, which honored those speaking out on this issue.

The nine doctors filing this lawsuit say the school’s failure to resolve these issues required them to take this step.

"I'm embarrassed. It's kind of tough seeing this happen at my school," said freshmen Jacob Knauer. "It seems not surprising though, and that's dangerous."

The lawsuit alleges, "The fact that Seligman and Clark were sleeping with their subordinates...may have dulled their sensitivity to the perils Jaeger's behavior posed to students and the U of R's reputation."

The lawsuit also alleges Seligmann and Clark, "repeatedly refused to intervene with Jaeger, despite his multiple escapades with graduate students... "

Friday, students said they hope the allegations aren't true, but are hopeful the conversation can change the culture around the U of R's handling of sexual harassment.

"I think things like this, if they're true especially," said student Sidney Hershey. "It's important for the university to be accountable for how they treat their students and professors."

"I think it's important that (the lawsuit) happens," said student Grace Gorant. "And it's interesting Jaeger was the first step to that, that it started with someone more at the bottom and someone is willing to challenge these people at the top."

The nine doctors filing this lawsuit say the school’s failure to resolve these issues required them to take this step.

The University of Rochester released the following statement in response to the lawsuit Friday:

The filing of this lawsuit was not unexpected. 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. That investigation continues; the most recent update from the special committee is here.
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