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Title IX lawsuits

In 2014, a Medill student and philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow filed separate but related lawsuits against Northwestern under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination by higher education institutions receiving federal funding.

The student filed the first suit on Feb. 10, accusing NU of acting “with deliberate indifference and retaliation” after she told University officials Ludlow sexually assaulted her in 2012. The University denied any Title IX infringements in its response, asserting the student’s reports spurred an internal investigation that found Ludlow had engaged in “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” toward her. The University also outlined numerous disciplinary sanctions taken against Ludlow. A judge sided in November 2014 with the University’s motion to dismiss the case, ruling that NU “took timely, reasonable, and successful measures” in aftermath of the student’s claims.

The student, then a Medill junior, also filed a civil suit against Ludlow under the Illinois Gender Violence Act. In it, the student reiterated the claims she made in her Title IX suit, accusing Ludlow of forcibly kissing and groping her after the two went to an art show in downtown Chicago.

Ludlow has denied all allegations of sexual assault.

The second Title IX lawsuit against NU was filed by Ludlow himself. He argued the University invaded his privacy, defamed him and discriminated against him because of his gender during its investigations of him for sexual misconduct. The suit reveals the University also investigated Ludlow after a philosophy graduate student lodged a complaint in March that Ludlow had “non-consensual sex” with her. On Feb. 8, a federal judge dismissed all claims against all the defendants in the lawsuit.

Ludlow then filed a defamation suit against the student in October, claiming that her accusations of sexual assault interfered with his job at NU and with his prospective employment at Rutgers.

The lawsuits spurred a campus-wide discussion about how the University handles sexual misconduct cases. A planned sit-in of Ludlow’s philosophy class turned into a student-led march from The Rock to administrators’ offices to start a discussion about NU’s policies and Ludlow’s presence on campus. Ludlow did not finish teaching his Winter Quarter 2014 class and has not taught since. In November, he resigned.

The University’s Title IX legal troubles extend beyond the Ludlow case. Another Title IX suit was filed against NU in August by a Feinberg student who said the school responded with “deliberate indifference” after he reported he was sexually harassed by a Feinberg professor. NU filed a motion Feb. 25 to dismiss the student’s lawsuit on the grounds that his sexual harassment claim was no longer timely and that the professor’s alleged behavior was not sexual harassment.


Latest stories on this topic:

    Philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow resigns from Northwestern
    Feinberg student sues Northwestern under Title IX
    Investigators find Prof. Laura Kipnis did not violate Title IX
    New Title IX investigator to help streamline sexual misconduct process
    Federal judge upholds dismissal of Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern


 

Page by Sophia Bollag/Daily Senior Staffer