A student has promised to continue a hunger strike until a professor accused of being a sexual predator at her prestigious New York university is sacked.

Seven current or former members of the University of Rochester Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department have lodged a formal federal complaint against the institution for failing to act against their colleague Dr Florian Jaeger, who is accused of pressuring female students into sex and throwing wild, drugged-out, naked hot tub parties.

A 113-page complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission details an alleged pattern of predatory behaviour from Jaeger, a linguistics expert, since he was hired by the university in 2006.

The complaint alleges Jaeger blurred the line between professor and friend in order to sleep with a string of graduate students, pressuring them into detailing their sexual exploits and insulting them publicly.

Advertisement

"He had unprotected sex with students, sent unwanted photographs of his genitalia to a female student [and] lamented to others that he might have sexually transmitted diseases," the complaint alleges.

A large portion of the complaint is formed from the testimony of PhD student Celeste Kidd, who Jaeger told to "treat him like a friend, not a professor".

Early in their acquaintance, she saw him "groping" another student.

"He had his hand under her shirt and was kissing her," the complaint alleges. "To avoid interrupting them, Kidd left the room and soon sent Jaeger a message saying that she was uncomfortable with the situation."

When trying to convince Kidd to enrol at the university, Jaeger told her that "sex was his favourite reading topic" and that she could "enjoy nude hot tub parties that he attended with students".

Florian Jaeger, a University of Rochester professor accused of sexual harassment. Photo / University of Rochester
Florian Jaeger, a University of Rochester professor accused of sexual harassment. Photo / University of Rochester

Kidd eventually enrolled in the university, primarily so she could learn from Jaeger's colleague, Richard Aslin, who has since quit the university in protest over its handling of Jaeger's alleged conduct.

After Kidd enrolled, Jaeger pressured her to rent the spare room at his home and said "his professional opinion of her would inevitably be tied to his personal opinion of her".

"Kidd interpreted this as a not-so-subtle threat to keep him happy or she would suffer consequences. She agreed to rent the room from him," the complaint alleges.

Jaeger allegedly gave professional colleagues the impression he and Kidd were living together as a couple.

Kidd also alleges that Jaeger threw booze-and drug-fuelled student parties at his house where he was only staff member.

Jaeger also organised "lab retreats", often taking place in the mountains of upstate New York, that involved drinking, drugs, music and soaking in a hot tub.

The complaint alleges that the guest list was restricted largely to students to whom he was sexually attracted.

At one retreat, Jaeger's partner, a graduate student, overdosed.

"Several students state that Jaeger had developed a 'cult-like' following of PhD students. His lab consequently had a 'cool boys, cut-throat, insider' culture," the complaint alleges.

"Students who did not conform to this group felt isolated and ostracised."

He would also discuss his sexual exploits. The complaint also alleges he was "cruel" to his students and that would rank them publicly.

"He would jokingly insult them in ways that were cutting. If anyone took offence, he would tell them that they were just too sensitive to take a joke - that any discomfort they felt was due to their own problems, not him. Some students recognised this as 'gaslighting'."

Kidd also said Jaeger pried into her sex life and asked how many sexual partners she had had.

Lindsay Wrobel has gone on a hunger strike over Florian Jaeger's alleged conduct. Photo / Fox Rochester
Lindsay Wrobel has gone on a hunger strike over Florian Jaeger's alleged conduct. Photo / Fox Rochester

"He told her that 'blow jobs count' and that 'American girls never count blow jobs'. These invasions into her private life were unwelcome sexual harassment," the complaint alleges.

His reputation for bedding his students was so well known that colleagues would bet on who he would sleep with first.

Jaeger was investigated but cleared by the university, causing a scandal that has now made national headlines. The complaint alleges that the university "covered up" the facts.

One student, Lindsay Wrobel, has refused to eat until the professor is fired.

"I fully intend to do this until I'm hospitalised. I think what's of primary importance is the students on this campus feeling safe. And as of right now, they don't, and they won't until Professor Jaeger is removed," she told Fox News three days into her hunger strike.

Angry students have started a change.org petition demanding that the university fire Jaeger and that it apologise to the 11 students who have given testimony in the formal complaint.

More than 500 students packed into a town hall on the issue last week and protests have erupted on the campus over the university's policies for investigating allegations of sexual assault.

Jaeger has stepped down for the remainder of the semester over the controversy.

The university's president, Joel Seligman, has hired an independent investigator to review its handling of the sexual harassment complaint and whether those who complained were retaliated against.

Jaeger has not spoken publicly about his claims, but he said in an email to students seen by The New York Times that online comments about him were "personally painful" and most "do not grant me 'presumption of innocence'".