In defamation suit, Ludlow claims student cost him opportunities at NU, Rutgers

Ally Mutnick, Managing Editor

In a defamation lawsuit filed Tuesday, philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow claimed the Medill senior who accused him of sexual assault made defamatory statements that interfered with both his job at Northwestern and his prospective employment at Rutgers.

Ludlow is asking for more than $120,000 in damages from the student, who he says knowingly spread false claims about him to local media outlets and NU professors.

In the suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Ludlow said the student propositioned him on the night of the alleged sexual assault, but he rejected her advances.

He also claimed the student used media attention from the case to continue publicly making false statements about him, according the suit.

The sexual assault allegations first came to light in February, when the student filed a Title IX lawsuit against NU. She said Ludlow sexually assaulted her when the two attended an art show in Chicago together in Winter Quarter 2012, her freshman year. He bought her alcohol, took her to his apartment and ignored her repeated requests to return to Evanston, she said. 

Ludlow’s defamation suit alleged the student was “very upset” with the University’s internal investigation of the allegations. The investigation found Ludlow made “unwelcome and inappropriate advances” toward her, but “specifically declined” to conclude that sexual assault occurred, according to the suit filed Tuesday.

The student “decided she wanted to publish an article” about Ludlow and sought advice from Medill Prof. Jack Doppelt, falsely telling him the University had found Ludlow guilty of sexually assaulting her, according to Ludlow’s suit.

The suit also alleged the student reached out to other NU professors and administrators, including Michele Bitoun, Medill’s former senior director of undergraduate education and teaching excellence. In the suit, Ludlow said her false statements hurt his employment at NU, causing him emotional distress and denying him income and benefits.

After the University’s investigation in 2012, NU denied Ludlow a pay raise for the 2012-13 academic year and revoked his appointment to an endowed professorship.

Following student protests, Ludlow did not finish teaching his 300-level philosophy class in Winter 2014. His spring 2014 class was canceled and he was not assigned to teach any classes this fall.

Ludlow also claimed in his defamation suit that the student interfered with his prospective job at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, when she contacted students at that university, asking them to assist her in protesting his job offer.

Rutgers announced in July that Ludlow would not be joining its faculty.

“When Rutgers learned of allegations against Professor Ludlow at Northwestern, the university requested relevant information from Professor Ludlow and his attorney,” Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor wrote in a statement at the time. “This information was not provided. As a result, Professor Ludlow will not be coming to Rutgers University.”

Ludlow’s lawyer, Kristin Case, said in July that Ludlow could not provide Rutgers the information because it was confidential.

In the student’s Title IX lawsuit, she said the University treated her claims of the assault with “deliberate indifference and retaliation.” She filed a separate suit against Ludlow later in February asking for damages under the Illinois Gender Violence Act.

NU’s internal investigation was conducted by Joan Slavin, Title IX coordinator and director of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office. Slavin told the student in April 2012 that she found Ludlow violated the University’s sexual harassment policy by initiating “kissing, French kissing, rubbing your back, and sleeping with his arms on and around you on the night of February 10-11, 2012,” according to investigation documents obtained by The Daily.

Slavin also found that Ludlow purchased alcohol for the student but was unable to substantiate her claims that Ludlow groped her, according to investigation documents.

In his defamation lawsuit against the student, Ludlow reiterated details about the days following the alleged assault, claiming the student tried contacting him via phone and social media. A few days after the alleged sexual assault, the student asked to meet Ludlow outside of a conference he was attending and he again said he did not want to date her, according to his suit.

Lawyers for Ludlow and the student did not respond to requests for comment.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @allymutnick

Previous stories on this topic:

    Ludlow sues Medill senior for defamation in sexual assault case
    Northwestern responds to student’s lawsuit, denies Title IX violations
    Student sues Northwestern, claiming University ignored sexual assault findings