Medill senior files motion for court to reconsider Title IX decision

    The Medill senior who sued Northwestern under Title IX has submitted a motion asking the court to reconsider its November dismissal of her case in light of new evidence and after alleged retaliation from the University.

    The student, who sued the University after former philosophy professor Peter Ludlow allegedly sexually assaulted her, says in the motion that she "learned of ruinous new evidence against Northwestern through the discovery process in her state court action," and that “the newly-discovered evidence further establishes Northwestern’s deliberate indifference and compels amendment and alteration of the previous judgment.”

    According to the motion, the only basis for her original complaint was a “Conclusion of Investigation” email from Joan Slavin, the Director of Sexual Harassment Prevention. However, new information has arisen from Northwestern’s official April 2012 Report, written by Slavin. The Report details a 2011 conversation between Slavin and Sandy Goldberg, the Philosophy Department Chair, in which Goldberg expresses concern over Ludlow’s behavior with female students. Goldberg allegedly mentioned two incidents – one in which Ludlow had taken “compromising pictures of women and show[ed] them to others” when he taught in South America, and another incident in which he “invited a female student to stay with him at his house in Scotland,” according to the motion. Goldberg allegedly reiterated his concerns when Slavin was investigating the student’s complaint that Ludlow had assaulted her.

    The motion also says Slavin interviewed philosophy Professor Jennifer Lackey. In her report, Slavin allegedly says Lackey is the one who originally raised concerns to Goldberg. Slavin said of her interview with Lackey, “She told me 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. Lackey said Ludlow has had lots of girlfriends, many are half his age and are past students. She said she is not sure if he has had relationships here with students in the past, but said she believes he did with one of his prior students at Michigan.”

    The student’s motion says Slavin’s report recommended training for Ludlow. According to the motion, Slavin wrote, “I am 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.” After Slavin issued her report, a graduate student in the philosophy department contacted Slavin with further information about Ludlow’s relationship with a former student, according to the motion.

    The Medill senior argues that this evidence proves the University’s “deliberate indifference” toward her after she filed her complaint. Since Northwestern allegedly knew of “Ludlow’s proclivity toward sleeping with his students” before hiring him, she argues she can say “the very act of hiring Ludlow was the first instance of discrimination she was subjected to by Northwestern.”

    “The evidence clearly shows that 1) Northwestern had actual knowledge of the perpetrator’s past misconduct before and after Ludlow started his employment with Northwestern; and that 2) Northwestern failed to do anything to monitor or properly supervise Ludlow, even after several concerns about his conduct toward female students had been reported to the University,” the motion says.

    What now: the questions left unanswered from the Ludlow case

    In addition to the new evidence from Slavin’s Report, the student also claims the University has retaliated against her by preventing her from graduating on time. According to the motion, “The administration at Northwestern Medill School of Journalism, which ‘forgot’ to register Plaintiff shorty after she filed this instant lawsuit, suddenly notified Plaintiff that she would not be graduating as scheduled even though she had been confirmed and approved to graduate.”

    The motion argues that because of the retaliation and the evidence from Slavin’s Report, the original judgment should be either altered or amended.


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