In an official response, attorneys representing the professors who have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the University of Rochester are questioning if investigators could act objectively considering the university was paying the bill.
Last month, the investigation found that Professor Florian Jaeger had at time acted inappropriately at times, but hadn’t broken the law or university policy. Investigators also said that the university had acted legally in dealing with Jaeger’s case.
Attorneys for the professors involved in the lawsuit took issue with the investigators’ findings. In a newly released response, the attorneys say that, along with other issues, the $4.5 million price tag the UR paid for the investigation made it difficult for investigators to act independently.
Among other criticisms, the attorneys write, “The University has paid $4.5 million to one of the most sophisticated corporate defense firms in the world, with a long track record of using special investigations of this sort to get companies out of trouble, to defuse the public pressure that arose from our Complaint.”
Attorneys also questioned the way investigators interpreted the law when working on its findings. They write, “Our fundamental argument is that Jaeger’s acts, plus the repeated failure of the University to address them, created a hostile work environment for women at BCS. Debevoise focused instead on whether Jaeger had committed sexual harassment against specific individuals – a straw man.”
Despite being cleared by the independent investigation, UR President Joel Seligman resigned shortly before the investigation was publicly released. Speaking with News 8, Seligman said the investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, was fair. But admitted the situation had cast a negative light on the college.
Seligman said, “It didn’t matter to me what the report said because it wasn’t a question of what the report was going to find. This has been a massive distraction and it has done some transitory harm to the reputation of 2,780 faculty, over 11,000 students, over 100,000 alumni and my job was always to protect their interests and I came to realize that I needed to lance the boil.”
You can read the full response here.