A team of Debevoise & Plimpton lawyers led by partner Mary Jo White disclosed the names of confidential witnesses in their long-awaited report on the University of Rochester’s handling of a sexual harassment scandal, according to people familiar with the matter and to the school’s campus newspaper.
Debevoise’s Jan. 11 report, which documented allegations against cognitive science professor T. Florian Jaeger and examined the university’s response, was quickly amended to anonymize the confidential information—but not before some witnesses discovered their names had been made public.
“I would have hoped for more care to be taken towards victims given the genuine concern about professional retaliation expressed to Debevoise by some of these same women, and because the report was going to be released publicly,” one witness, Kris Gorman, told the Campus Times.
The newspaper said that White, who is Debevoise’s senior chair, a former Securities and Exchange Commission chair and a former Manhattan U.S. attorney, had conceded the “error” in emails after the report was released, and had apologized for the confidentiality breach.
Debevoise litigation co-chair Mary Beth Hogan headed the firm’s probe along with White. The pair also tapped outside investigators from the risk management and investigations firm Stroz Friedberg. A Debevoise spokesperson declined to comment. White did not respond to an email and phone message.
Debevoise stated in the report that it had billed the university a total of $4.5 million for its work.
The report was commissioned by the university’s board of trustees last fall, after nearly a dozen women filed a federal discrimination complaint about Jaeger’s alleged conduct and accused school officials of improperly protecting him.
Though the Debevoise lawyers described years of sexual relationships and unprofessional conduct involving Jaeger and his students and colleagues, they concluded he had not violated school policy, effectively exonerating the school. University of Rochester president Joel Seligman nevertheless stepped down just hours before the report was released.
Richard Handler, the CEO of the Jefferies Group, who is a University of Rochester trustee and led the committee that hired Debevoise for the probe, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the university and its board of trustees did not respond to a request for comment.