Northwestern responds to student’s lawsuit, denies Title IX violations

Ciara McCarthy and Ally Mutnick

Northwestern responded Friday to the Title IX lawsuit a Medill junior filed against the school last week, saying the school appropriately punished philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow based on the findings of its internal investigation.

The University said it “imposed several disciplinary sanctions and other corrective actions against Ludlow” — including denying him a raise during the 2012-13 academic year, rescinding his appointment to an endowed professorship and prohibiting him from having any contact with the student — and denied it had acted with “deliberate indifference and retaliation” while handling the student’s complaint.

(Student sues Northwestern, claiming University ignored sexual assault findings)

A six-person faculty committee unanimously supported the sanctions when Ludlow appealed them, according to the response. University spokesman Al Cubbage said in an email to The Daily the committee “could have recommended additional sanctions but did not do so.”

The student alleges Ludlow sexually assaulted her during a trip the two took to an art show in Chicago in February 2012. An internal investigation by the University concluded Ludlow made “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” toward the student.

In its response, NU admitted many of the factual allegations made but denied most of the allegations against the University. The school denied the lawsuit’s claim that the student “will continue to suffer humiliation, mental and emotional anguish, anxiety, and distress as a result of the hostile educational environment created by Defendant and its deliberate indifference.”

Cubbage said in a statement he had made the student’s attorney aware of several inaccuracies in the lawsuit and the attorney indicated he would correct the suit.

The student’s attorney, Kevin O’Connor, told The Daily on Friday afternoon the University had provided him additional information regarding the committee, which the original lawsuit says was established to determine disciplinary actions against Ludlow.

O’Connor said he recently learned the committee was created to evaluate sanctions the University had already proposed. O’Connor said he plans to amend the lawsuit to indicate the committee’s formal decision did not recommend Ludlow be fired. The change is a technical one, O’Connor said, and he believes the substance of the complaint will remain intact.

“At the end of the day, it’s not going to affect the integrity of the lawsuit,” he said.

NU also denied the allegation that the student was not supported following the incident, saying it had offered her support from the Dean of Students’ office, Counseling and Psychological Services and Center for Awareness, Response and Education, among others.

(Student: Northwestern’s failures spurred Title IX lawsuit)

The University asked for the case to be dismissed, arguing it has not violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination by higher education institutions receiving federal funding.

“Northwestern complied fully with its procedures, conducted a prompt and thorough investigation of all of the allegations made by the student to the University and took a number of corrective and remedial actions in this matter,” Cubbage said in the statement.

Joseph Diebold contributed reporting.