McAllister Olivarius in the news

Florian Jaeger

UR's legal team divulged their names in court filings last week — marking the third time lawyers for the university allegedly have publicly identified confidential witnesses in the case, according to the plaintiffs lawyers.

The latest breach led one witness to come forward and openly criticize the university.

"For a long time it felt safer to share my experiences anonymously than to speak out openly," said Meredith Brown, a former graduate research fellow at UR now a senior data scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. "But I wasn’t considering how my desire for anonymity could potentially open me, and the other witnesses, up to intimidation and retaliation by those who wish to silence us."

“The women's names were provided in a table marked confidential in red, bold letters, and attached to a letter reiterating the need for confidentiality, according to McAllister Olivarius. The women, the firm noted, "gave often deeply personal accounts of sexual harassment and misconduct by Jaeger," with assurances their names would not be made public.”

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“Nearly all of the claims presented in a lawsuit have a legal basis to proceed, a judge ruled, setting the stage for a showdown in court over allegations that UR retaliated against and defamed nine former students and faculty affiliated with complaints against professor T. Florian Jaeger.

United States District Judge Lawrence Vilardo, in allowing most of the claims to proceed, established that those claims, if true, describe illegal behavior on the part of the University. 

Of the more than 15 charges levied against the University, only two — that complainant Elissa Newport was retaliated against under Title VII, and that a special committee of the Board of Trustees defamed the complainants — were dismissed in their entirety. Vilardo ruled the Board of Trustees statement wasn’t defamatory, and that Newport was not protected by Title VII because when the alleged retaliation occurred, she was not at UR. 

Vilardo’s decision neither verifies nor debunks any of the claims.

“For us, this is certainly a vindication,” Steven Piantadosi, one of the complainants, told the Campus Times. “It’s a vindication of our attorneys and what they had told us all along about the legal standards. […] In terms of our case, you know I think it’s a clearly good step for us in legal terms.”

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