Student's Title IX lawsuit against University dismissed in district court

    A court dismissed the Medill senior’s Title IX case against Northwestern Thursday. 

    A federal district court for the eastern division of the northern district of Illinois ruled that because Northwestern “took timely, reasonable, and successful measure to end the harassment,” they did not violate Title IX, a federal gender equality law, for their handling of the student’s report that Professor Peter Ludlow sexually assaulted her in Feb. 2012.

    The student's case stated the “failure of Northwestern to fire Ludlow and allowing him to remain on campus created a hostile enrollment that effectively deprived her of the education opportunities and benefits provided by the school,” according to the court documents.

    “For the past two years, my life was almost ruined. It has been so hard for me the past two years. I could not get my stuff together,” the student said in an interview with North By Northwestern last February. “I felt like my life was starting to fall – it was falling apart already.”

    Judge Harry D. Leinenweber wrote in his opinion that Joan Slavin, the director of sexual harassment prevention, immediately took action after the incident was reported, as well as immediately after the Medill student told her that Peter Ludlow, a philosophy professor, had sent her a letter threatening to sue her for defamation.

    However, Leinenweber wrote that there did not need to be payment of damages when “the institution is unaware of the hostile environment.” Had Ludlow continued to harass the student following the university’s investigation and action, he wrote, then Northwestern would have been liable for indifferently handling her case, according to the 1999 Court of Appeals for the First Circuit case Wills v. Brown University.

    The court opinion also said that the student’s argument “flies in the face” of the Supreme Court precedent established in the 1999 case Davis Next Friend LaShonda D. v. Monroe which said the plaintiff does not have the right to make “particular remedial demands.”

    Ludlow responded to the lawsuit in March by denying the allegations, but the court documents released Thursday openly refer to Ludlow sexually assaulting the student.

    Ludlow also filed a lawsuit against the university in June, arguing that they discriminated against him by not taking his version of events into account and that university defamed him. That case has yet to be decided.


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