NU Professor Defends Himself Against Student's Lawsuit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter Ludlow.

    A Northwestern University professor who a student claims sexually harassed her, says the student was the real aggressor.

    The student, who's now a junior, filed a lawsuit claiming the school failed to act on a sexual harassment complaint she filed against philosophy professor Peter Ludlow two years ago. Ludlow still teaches at the school.

    She claims Ludlow gave her alcohol and fondled her during a trip to an art show in downtown Chicago in February 2012. She alleges he ignored her pleas to be taken back to Evanston, and took her to his apartment, where she eventually passed out and woke up in the professor's bed.

    But Ludlow defended himself through his attorney Thursday, saying it was the student who propositioned Ludlow, and he refused her advances. He also claims she initiated friendly communications after the alleged assaults took place. The lawyer says she has text messages from the student to the professor five days after the alleged assault asking him to meet with her, although she would not produce the texts. She also says the police have not contacted Ludlow about the incident.

    In an email to the student obtained by NBC 5 Investigates, Northwestern's director of Sexual Harassment Prevention Joan Slavin wrote that after her own investigation, she was convinced that Ludlow had initiated "unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances," that the student was "incapacitated by alcohol" from the drinks he bought her, making her incapable of offering consent, and that Ludlow discussed his desire to have a sexual relationship with her, all of which the student said was unwelcome.

    Ludlow's continued presence at Northwestern is disconcerting to some, including sociology professor Laura Beth Nielsen, who wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper questioning why Northwestern continues to fight the case when their own investigation found that her allegations were credible.

    "It sounds like something really didn't work here," Nielsen said. "It's our responsibility to not put students in danger. If this university has actual knowledge that he's done this to a student and they've put him in a classroom with students? It's very disturbing."

    The student says she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and continues to run into Ludlow on campus.

    While no documentation is provided, the suit alleges that "a committee was established to determine what action should be taken against Ludlow. ... the committee determined that Ludlow should be terminated." However, the suit says "Northwestern ignored its own committee's decision and recommendation and continues to employ Ludlow as a professor."