The University of Rochester is responding to claims it mishandled sexual harassment allegations against one of its star professors. A complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) calls Florian Jaeger a "manipulative sexual predator." It also accuses university officials of retaliating against faculty who complained about his conduct.
University of Rochester officials say they thoroughly investigated the allegations last year and found Jaeger did not break any of its policies, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner. But his accusers claim that investigation was shoddy. They are now pressing their case all the way to the federal government. Some University of Rochester students say they've lost confidence in school administrators, accusing them of failing the alleged victims.
Senior Lindsay Wrobel has been on a hunger strike since midnight Thursday. She vows not to eat until Florian Jaeger is fired.
"I'm prepared to do this until I'm hospitalized. And I hope that it doesn't come to that point," Wrobel said.
According to a 111-page EEOC complaint filed in August, Jaeger hosted hot tub parties, used illegal drugs with students and sent one unwanted pictures of his genitals.
"At least eleven female students and post-docs at UR actively avoided working with Jaeger because of his constant sexual innuendos, pressure to sleep with students, power plays and other unprofessional behavior, which created a taxing, strange and unequal environment in which to pursue their education," the complaint said.
Celeste Kidd is one of them.
"Florian had a history of retaliation. He had retaliated against other students in front of me," Kidd said.
While trying to recruit her to the university, Kidd claims Jaeger sent her inappropriate Facebook messages. "Rochester used to be the place for legendary parties with lots of nudity," he allegedly wrote.
Elissa Newport, now a Georgetown University professor, once chaired Jaeger's department.
"He commented on the bodies of the women in the department. There were bets going around in the department about who he'd sleep with in the entering class," Newport said.
Jaeger did not respond to CBS News requests for comment. Last week, he emailed students to say he has supporters on campus who dispute the allegations: "I have always tried to make my classes and my lab an exciting, save [sic], and supportive place to pursue science," he wrote.
The university has said the EEOC complaint is largely based on hearsay and not substantiated by its own investigations and subsequent appeals. A spokesman said: "the University of Rochester does not tolerate sexual misconduct. The university takes any allegations of such behavior very seriously."
Jessica Cantlon accuses school officials of trying to embarrass Jaeger's detractors by going through their emails. The EEOC complaint claims messages were used to portray them as liars and manipulators.
"In that moment, we were devastated. We felt ruined in the eyes of our colleagues," Cantlon said.
The university says it is cooperating with the EEOC and will ask an independent expert to review its discrimination and harassment policies and procedures.