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Medill senior challenges dismissal of Title IX suit

Sophia Bollag, Web Editor

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Title IX lawsuits


The Medill senior suing Northwestern under Title IX filed a motion Thursday asking the judge who dismissed her lawsuit to reconsider or vacate his decision.

The new motion reveals multiple concerns about philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow’s sexual conduct toward students that were brought to the University before the student accused him of sexual assault in 2012.

The student filed suit against NU in February claiming administrators did not respond adequately after she filed her complaint with the school. In her complaint, she accused Ludlow of forcibly kissing and groping her after the two attended an art show in Chicago together. Last month, a federal judge dismissed her suit, saying the University “took timely, reasonable, and successful measures” in response to her complaint.

The student’s new motion reveals Title IX coordinator Joan Slavin, who investigated the student’s complaint, wrote in a report that she was “concerned that Ludlow may have a pattern of using his position as a faculty member to engage in sexual or romantic relationships with young female students.”

Slavin, the director of NU’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office, declined to speak about the motion Friday, deferring to the University for comment. University spokesman Al Cubbage declined to comment on the specifics of the allegations.

Ludlow’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment for this article. In the past, Ludlow has denied the allegations that he sexually assaulted the student.

The student received the report through legal proceedings in a separate suit she filed against Ludlow in February under the Illinois Gender Violence Act, her lawyer Kevin O’Connor said.

The report says the chair of the philosophy department, Prof. Sandy Goldberg, approached Slavin in 2011 with concerns raised by other faculty members about Ludlow’s relationships with two graduate students on a trip to South America and with a graduate student whom he invited to his home in Scotland.

Goldberg declined to comment for this article.

The report also says philosophy Prof. Jennifer Lackey told Slavin during the investigation, “she was not surprised to hear a complaint had been filed against him, and said she would not be surprised if there were more in the future.” Ludlow “has had lots of girlfriends, many are half his age and are past students,” Lackey added, according to the report.

Lackey declined to comment for this article.

“The newly-discovered evidence clearly establishes that Northwestern was on actual notice of, and had a prior knowledge of, Ludlow’s past misconduct toward young female students and his predisposition to be involved with them in a sexual and questionably inappropriate manner, but failed to monitor or supervise him,” the Medill senior’s motion claims.

The motion also includes new allegations that the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications took and continues to engage in “retaliatory action” against the senior since she filed the initial lawsuit, including allegedly failing to register her in a class and telling her she would not graduate on time with her registered second major.

In June, Ludlow filed a lawsuit against NU, several top administrators and a philosophy graduate student with whom he claimed he had “a consensual romantic relationship” from October 2011 to January 2012. The suit revealed the University investigated Ludlow when the graduate student filed a complaint alleging the professor had non-consensual sex with her during that time.

NU halted its plans to mediate in Ludlow’s lawsuit last month.

This article was updated Dec. 13 at 6:32 p.m.

Email: sophiabollag@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @SophiaBollag

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