Ludlow’s Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern dismissed

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

A federal judge Thursday dismissed philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow’s lawsuit against Northwestern and top University officials alleging gender discrimination, defamation and invasion of privacy.

The judge dismissed all claims against all the defendants in the lawsuit, which Ludlow filed in June.

“The University said when this lawsuit was filed that it had no merit,” University spokesman Al Cubbage said in an email to The Daily. “The federal court today ruled that to be the case.”

Ludlow’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

In the suit, Ludlow alleged NU violated his rights under Title IX and discriminated against him because of his gender during a 2014 sexual misconduct investigation. Judge Sara L. Ellis dismissed the claim, saying Ludlow failed to prove NU discriminated against him because of his gender.

This is the second Title IX suit filed against the University and dismissed in the last year. In November, another federal judge dismissed a Medill senior’s lawsuit alleging NU acted with “deliberate indifference and retaliation” after she reported Ludlow sexually assaulted her in 2012. Ludlow has denied the Medill student’s allegations.

In her ruling Thursday, Ellis also dismissed Ludlow’s claims against a philosophy graduate student, philosophy Prof. Jennifer Lackey and director of NU’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office Joan Slavin. Ludlow alleged the three women defamed him in statements they made during the 2014 investigation into the graduate student’s complaint that Ludlow had non-consensual sex with her while they were in a relationship, according to his lawsuit.

Ellis ruled the student’s statements were not defamatory because the student made them during an investigation into an employee’s alleged sexual misconduct. Ellis said Slavin’s statements were also not defamatory because they were “either true, not highly offensive, can be innocently construed, or are non-verifiable opinion.” Ellis dismissed the defamation claim against Lackey because Ludlow’s reasoning was “too vague and ambiguous.”

Lackey declined to comment for this article. Slavin did not respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Ludlow and the philosophy graduate student had “a consensual romantic relationship” from about October 2011 to January 2012, according to his lawsuit.

Ludlow’s lawsuit says an independent investigator hired by NU to investigate the student’s allegations found the student’s claims of non-consensual sex unsubstantiated but said Ludlow had violated NU’s sexual harassment policy because he had “unequal power” in the relationship. Ludlow contests this finding from the investigator’s report, according to his lawsuit.

The graduate student declined to comment for this article through her lawyer.

Ellis also dismissed Ludlow’s defamation claims against University President Morton Schapiro and Cubbage for statements they made in the aftermath of the Medill senior’s lawsuit, which was filed in February 2014.

This story was updated Monday at 1 p.m. for clarity.

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