McAllister Olivarius in the news

sexual harassment

“Alison Wilkinson, attorney for McAllister Olivarius, has been working on the sexual harassment case against Gary Xu, former head of the East Asian Language and Culture Department, and has just filed a complaint on behalf of his three former students. 

Wilkinson said in the case of Xu, the victims were all from China, where there is a stronger deference element to the professorial student relationship, which Xu knowingly used to his advantage. 

“Some sort of beginning, primer, intensive session with foreign students would be really helpful to set the stage for what should and shouldn’t be allowed,” Wilkinson said. 

According to the Sexual Misconduct Perceived Campus Response Survey, about half of students reported knowing where to get help following an incident of sexual misconduct. About 30% report understanding the process that occurs following a report of misconduct. 

Wilkinson said teaching assistants, faculty and most people who knew what was going on with Xu said they didn’t feel there was a clear reporting path. “

“They either hadn’t been trained, or they didn’t remember that they had been trained,” Wilkinson said. “Or they didn’t know how anyone could respond since he was the head of the department.” “

Read the rest of the article here.

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.”

Read the rest of the article here.

“The most severe accusations involve Xingjian Sun, who said she began a sexual relationship with Xu when she was a 19-year-old freshman at U. of I. in 2013. Xu was 45 at the time. Sun alleged she felt pressured to submit to Xu’s advances, which the lawsuit claims ultimately led to a sexual assault. The two-year relationship became verbally and physically abusive, eventually leading to two suicide attempts, she alleges in the suit. Sun graduated from U. of I. in 2016. She now lives in New York. Her attorney, Alison Wilkinson, said Sun chose to be identified in the lawsuit rather than file anonymously.

“I think that she was done being bullied by him,” Wilkinson said. “This is a very big step for her to come forward and no longer be a victim but to be a survivor and a fighter.”

Read the rest of the article here.

One of our plaintiffs speaks exclusively to CBS News about the abuse she endured:

"I didn't seriously date anyone before him. I didn't know what was love."

Oliver asked, "How many times did he rape you?"

"It's too much, I don't remember," Sun replied. "It's too traumatizing. but I would say none of the sex, especially after the fight, was consensual."

The fights were frequent, she said, and in one instance, she thought she would die. On one occasion, Sun said Xu tried to run her over. "He was after me, and he went to the parking lot and started his car driving after me trying to crash me in the street," Sun said. "I was so scared, and I was actually surprised that someone actually just try to kill me in public."

Oliver asked, "How many times did you report professor Xu to the university?"

"I believe eventually three times," Sun said. "I felt like they wanted to sweep it under the rug, that's for sure."

Read the rest of the article and see the whole segment here

“Three people have filed a lawsuit against disgraced Chinese curator Xú Gāng 徐钢, the former professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), who was accused of sexual misconduct stretching back decades in a series of damning revelations that came to light last year.

In a lawsuit filed on September 10 in Illinois, Xingjian Sun, Xing Zhao, and Ao Wang accused Xu of engaging in “a pattern of sexual abuse and labor trafficking of Chinese students” when he served as head of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at the university.

According to the complaint published by law firm McAllister Olivarius on its website, before Xu resigned in 2018 in the wake of sex scandals, he abused his power and authority over the course of many years during his teaching career.”

Read the rest of the article here.

““We think that Gary Xu is a very dangerous man. Our goal is to prevent him from being able to harm other women and students,” said Alison Wilkinson, an attorney with New York-based law firm McAllister Olivarius. “Our secondary goal is to invoke some systemic change at the University of Illinois and at other universities, where students can be taken advantage of by professors without any oversight to prevent that from happening.”

“She was new to the country, isolated and so young,” the lawsuit says. “She was the perfect target for him.”The woman is named in the court filing, but News-Gazette Media has chosen not to publish her identity in accordance with its policy not to identify alleged rape victims.

She was taking an independent study course with him, and they started dating that fall, despite Xu’s marriage and two children. (He divorced his wife last year, according to court records.) Xu first was violent with her that November, pushing her against a wall when she mentioned her ex-boyfriend. Shortly after that, the woman attempted suicide, and Xu insisted she skip eight therapy sessions at the UI she was supposed to attend.Not long after that, Xu showed up to the woman’s apartment and raped her violently. But the relationship continued, with Xu paying her rent and giving her other cash gifts, the lawsuit says, “with the unstated quid pro quo that she would sexually service him whenever he chose.” Xu got the woman pregnant in early 2014 and then forced her to get an abortion, scheduling an appointment for her without her knowledge and giving her $400 in cash to do so.”

Read the rest of article here, detailing the entirety of our claims against Xu.

“An 87-page lawsuit filed Tuesday against the former head of the East Asian Language and Culture Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alleges a reign of terror that includes accusations of preying on young Chinese women and sexually assaulting students.

Two former students and another professor are suing Gary Xu, who worked at U of I from 2006 until 2018, when he was “allowed to resign” by the university.

Ann Olivarius, the lead attorney on the case, said she was “aghast” when she heard the allegations.

“People are terrified,” Olivarius said. “And he’s gotten away with it.”

Olivarius’ team investigated the claims, and they hoped the university would address the issues, but it didn’t, she said.”

Read the rest of the article here.

“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.”

Read the rest of the article here.

“It’s a wonderful decision. It’s a beautiful decision,” said Ann Olivarius, lead counsel for the former professors and students who had filed the suit. “It essentially embraces our arguments and says ‘You get to go forward.’” “Virtually all of the substantial legal claims, particularly those about retaliation, were left in,” said one of the plaintiffs, Steven Piantadosi. He and his wife, Celeste Kidd, who both had been on Brain And Cognitive Science faculty at UR, left UR a little more than a year ago to take new jobs at the University of California at Berkeley. Vilardo wrote that the suit contains many charges of retaliation including “criticism, violating confidentiality, viewing the plaintiffs’ emails, calling for an independent investigation, permitting Jaeger to participate in (complainants’) performance evaluations, failing to retain or hire a plaintiff, hindering the plaintiffs’ efforts to move to other institutions, and excluding the plaintiffs from meetings,” all of which the university claimed were not “adverse employment actions.”

Read the entirety of the article here:

Statement by the Plaintiffs responding to Judge Vilardo’s decision sustaining their complaint

“We are delighted to receive Judge Vilardo’s Decision and Order, which vindicates our decision to bring this case. Faced with the University’s argument that we have no valid legal claims, the court has upheld our right to proceed to trial on almost every one, including retaliation, hostile work environment, breach of contract and defamation. This victory is still bittersweet, however, because we never wanted to be here in the first place. All we have sought from the outset is for the University to behave properly in the face of our serious concerns that Professor Jaeger was harassing students and making it intolerable for many women to work in our Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department. We have always sought to engage constructively with UR, where we had worked for a combined five decades and hoped to spend the rest of our careers. Unfortunately, we have been repeatedly rebuffed. As employees, we were retaliated against, called liars and troublemakers. As plaintiffs, we were told our complaints were hearsay and unfounded. The University conducted a retaliation campaign that drove many of us from our jobs. Our attempts to settle the case have been rejected. Now, Judge Vilardo’s decision demonstrates that the University has wasted two years and millions of dollars trying to defend the indefensible.”

Read the statement in its entirety here.