Sexual Harassment Charges Roil Elite University Department

In May 2016, while the investigation was still ongoing, Dr. Jaeger was promoted to full professor.

The new federal complaint, to which Dr. Aslin and Dr. Cantlon are also parties, gathered the testimony of 11 women, including a current professor in the department and former undergraduates who had worked with Dr. Jaeger. The accounts range from being approached sexually by Dr. Jaeger at bars to being made to feel so uncomfortable in his lab that they abandoned projects in order to avoid working with him. They depict a man who used his stature to coerce women into crossing professional boundaries, and deceived them into believing that he had the approval of senior faculty in doing so.

“I asked the rochester authorities today about certain student-faculty relations and I am in no danger,” he wrote in April 2007 to Dr. Celeste Kidd, one of the complainants, according to a screenshot of a Facebook conversation Dr. Kidd provided to The Times. Dr. Kidd, whom Dr. Jaeger advised at the start of her graduate studies, rented a room in his house for a year, because, she said, he suggested that he would speak poorly of her to colleagues if she did not.

“He made it very clear that to do well in his lab, which everyone was telling me was a good idea, it was not possible to have only a professional relationship with him. That was not his mentor style,” Dr. Kidd said.

A year of distress followed, Dr. Kidd said, with Dr. Jaeger describing to her the genitalia of one of his sexual partners, or warning her against “spoiling her physique” when he saw her eating. Once, the complaint says, Dr. Jaeger stuck his hand in beans that Dr. Kidd was cooking and said, “Your beans feel really weird, Celeste.”

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Dr. Jaeger, a University of Rochester professor, was accused of sexual harassment and cleared by the university.

Credit
University of Rochester

Dr. Jaeger did not return multiple requests for comment. But in his email to students on Tuesday, he said he had received letters of support from former students and colleagues who expressed “how positively they experienced the atmosphere in the lab.”

“I have read comments online, and while many of them are personally painful for me to read (as most of these comments do not grant me ‘presumption of innocence,’ to put it mildly), I am glad that there is now generally so much support for people who speak up…

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