Junior sues Northwestern over sexual harassment complaint

    A Medill junior who filed a sexual harassment complaint against Professor Peter Ludlow two years ago is suing Northwestern University for not acting on the complaint. 

    The student stated that on a February 2012 trip to an art show, Ludlow gave her alcohol and fondled her. He allegedly ignored her when she asked to be taken back to Evanston and instead took her to his apartment. The student says she eventually passed out there and woke up in his bed.

    According to the court documents, the student told Ludlow, her former professor, about an event she thought he would be interested in. Ludlow requested she attend the event with him. He drove her to the event at Columbia College Chicago. 

    The court documents state that the professor "insisted strongly" that the plaintiff drink with him at bars, as well as at his apartment. At the time of the incident, the plaintiff claims "she was too intoxicated to put up any meaningful resistance." After losing consciousness several times throughout the night, she woke up in Ludlow's bed at 4 a.m. with his arms wrapped around her, according to the document. 

    After reporting the incident to another faculty member the next day, the student confronted Ludlow, who, according to the legal complaint, "begged [her] not to tell anyone and told her that he could mentor her academically or pay her money."

    Director of Sexual Harassment Prevention Joan Slavin was notified about the complaint and the investigation began. The University investigation concluded that Ludlow “engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances,” but that Northwestern gave no evidence that there were any “disciplinary and corrective actions," according to the claim.

    The lawsuit says the University established a committee “to determine what action should be taken against Ludlow” and that the committee decided “Ludlow should be terminated.”

    However, the lawsuit states, “Northwestern ignored its own committee’s decision and recommendation and continues to employ Ludlow as a professor.”

    "We don't comment on pending litigation, but the University has policies and procedures in place to protect our students and to address any such reported concerns,” Director of Media Relations Bob Rowley said.

    The student says her health has been severely affected, and she attempted suicide shortly after the incident due to the “stress and trauma." She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the incident. The student is seeking reimbursement for medical bills, tuition, compensation for emotional distress and attorney's fees, as well as pursuing remedial action taken against Ludlow. 

    Ludlow has been a professor in the Department of Philosophy since 2008. Before coming to Northwestern, he taught at the state University of New York at Stony Brook, the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto, according to Northwestern’s Weinberg website.  It has also been reported that Ludlow accepted an offer for a professorship at Rutgers during Fall Quarter 2013. 

    Megan Thielking contributed reporting. 


    blog comments powered by Disqus
    Please read our Comment Policy.