Student suing Northwestern under Title IX files new evidence

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

Title IX lawsuits

The Medill senior suing Northwestern under Title IX filed a new motion Tuesday in her lawsuit against the University, which includes evidence that has drawn criticism from NU and other professors named in the latest filing.

The student filed the lawsuit in February, claiming administrators did not respond adequately after she filed a complaint with the school saying philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow sexually assaulted her in 2012. In her complaint, she accused Ludlow of forcibly kissing and groping her after the two attended an art show in Chicago together. In November, a federal judge dismissed her lawsuit, saying the University “took timely, reasonable, and successful measures” in response to her complaint.

Ludlow’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment for this story. In the past, Ludlow has denied the student’s allegations against him through his lawyer.

The motion filed Tuesday is the second one the Medill senior has filed asking the judge who dismissed her lawsuit to reconsider or vacate his decision.

The new filing includes a sworn statement from Heidi Lockwood, a philosophy professor at Southern Connecticut State University, that alleges various philosophy colleagues raised concerns to her about Ludlow’s sexual conduct. Lockwood, a blogger, said philosophy professors and students often come to her with such concerns because she often writes about issues related to sexual misconduct. In the statement, she also alleges that colleagues expressed concerns to her that at least one NU professor on the committee that decided to hire Ludlow knew he was dating a former student from the University of Michigan. Before coming to NU, Ludlow worked at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

“As was true of the original complaint, we believe this motion also has no merit,” University spokesman Al Cubbage said.

Three philosophy professors on the committee that recommended NU hire Ludlow in 2008 — Jennifer Lackey, Baron Reed and Sandy Goldberg, the chair of the philosophy department — said Lockwood’s statement “contains various falsehoods” and “egregiously misrepresents” their knowledge of Ludlow’s sexual conduct.

“We categorically deny that we had knowledge prior to the hiring of Peter Ludlow at Northwestern of any allegations that he had sexual relations of any sort with his students,” the NU professors said Thursday in a statement posted on the philosophy blog the Daily Nous. “No concern was ever expressed to any of us by anyone that Ludlow engaged in sexual misconduct at his previous institutions (or in other conduct that would pose a threat to our students), nor did we have any reason to think that Ludlow’s past should be investigated further.”

Lackey, Goldberg and Reed declined to comment for this article, deferring to their statement in the Daily Nous.

In her first motion after her lawsuit was dismissed, the Medill student also alleged the University knew about Ludlow’s relationship with a former University of Michigan student before hiring him. The motion also revealed Title IX coordinator Joan Slavin, who investigated the student’s complaint in 2012, 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.”

Lockwood told The Daily on Thursday she decided to release the sworn statement because she did not want to be a “bystander.”

“I obviously have nothing to gain, and much to lose,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. “The reason I decided to come forward — after many months of watching and deliberating — is because there are philosophers who have knowledge and want to talk, but are afraid to, either because they are afraid of retaliation in the form of a suit from Ludlow, or because they’re afraid of being censured by the philosophical community at large.”

Ludlow is currently suing 10 different parties, including the Medill senior, the University, Lackey, Cubbage and other University officials.

“Ludlow’s lawsuit has had a really chilling silencing effect,” Lockwood told The Daily in a phone interview. “I can’t claim to know what the truth is. I’m not an investigator. But I feel obligated to report that there has been a lot of talk in the discipline and no one has been willing to step forward.”

Ciara McCarthy contributed reporting.

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