A Northwestern University philosophy professor vehemently denies a student’s allegations that he fondled and sexually harassed a female freshman in 2012. But another Northwestern professor who accompanied the young woman to file a police report, is supporting the student’s version of events.
Professor Jacqueline Stevens calls the entire affair “outrageous”.
“These are criminal accusations,” she says. “And they’re very serious!”
The young woman filed a Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern, charging unlawful discrimination and retaliation by the University, after she reported the alleged harassment. The suit states that she accompanied Ludlow to an art show in downtown Chicago in February 2012. She says Ludlow insisted on taking her to a restaurant, where he bought her drinks, despite her protests that she was underage and did not want to drink. She says he then took her to another bar, bought her more drinks, prompting her to ask him to take her back to Evanston.
At a third bar, “Ludlow commented on how attractive Plaintiff was,” the lawsuit states, “and started to rub her back and kiss her at the bar. Plaintiff was too intoxicated to put up any meaningful resistance to Ludlow’s unwelcome advances.”
Later, the woman says she lost consciousness and woke up in an elevator in Ludlow’s apartment building, “with Ludlow furiously making out with Plaintiff.”
“Plaintiff begged Ludlow to stop,” the complaint states, “but he groped her breast and buttocks, and told Plaintiff it was ‘inevitable’ that they would have sex. Plaintiff’s next recollection was when she woke up around 4:00 am in Ludlow’s bed.”
A report by Joan Slavin at Northwestern’s Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention, concluded that the young woman was the target of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances.
“In particular, I find that he inititated kissing, French kissing, rubbing your back, and sleeping with his arms on and around you on the night of February 10-11 2012,” Slavin wrote. “I do not find that Respondent touched your breasts or buttocks. I find that you were incapacitated due to heavy consumption of alcohol purchased for you by Respondent, and were therefore unable to offer meaningful consent to this physical touching that night.”
“I also find that Respondent told you he thought you were attractive, discussed his desire to have a romantic and sexual relationship with you, and shared other personal information of a sexual nature, all of which was unwelcome to you,” Slavin said, reaching a conclusion that “Respondent’s conduct toward you violated the University’s Policy on Sexual Harassment.”
But Ludlow was not removed from teaching duties at Northwestern. The University, citing the pending litigation, refuses to comment on the case.
Stevens, the professor who accompanied the woman to file the police report, said she first noticed her having trouble in class.
“She mentioned medical appointments,” Stevens said. “She said she was sexually assaulted by a faculty member. She read me some emails.”
“This isn’t just about her personal concerns,” she said. “This is about the safety of the Northwestern community.”
But Ludlow vehemently denied the woman’s accusations, and in a statement released by his lawyer, insisted that it was she who was the aggressor.
“Mr. Ludlow did not assault (the woman), nor did he engage in any inappropriate conduct,” the statement said. “We have corroborating evidence that (she) propositioned Mr. Ludlow. He refused her advances.”
The statement says Ludlow’s attorneys are in possession of communications which show that the woman initiated friendly contact with the professor the day after, and then again four and five days after the date of the alleged incident.
“Some of these communications were via social media,” the statement says. “We also have text messages which show that (the woman) was very friendly with Mr. Ludlow on February 15, 2012—five days after the alleged assault—and that she, in fact, asked him to meet with her in person and then came to a conference he was attending, asking him to talk to her. At that time, Mr. Ludlow told her, as he had in the past, that he did not want to be romantically involved with her.”
Ludlow has not been charged with a crime. A source told NBC5 that the woman attempted to file a report with the Northwestern Police, but was told the report would have to be taken in Chicago, as that was where the incident allegedly occurred. Because of confidentiality concerns, the source said, the student did not go to Chicago police, and went to a local counseling service instead. She did not talk to Chicago PD until she filed the report with Stevens last Spring.
Whatever the events, on the Northwestern campus, there is growing unease on the part of many faculty members about the University’s handling of the matter.
“There’s an obligation to the larger community to investigate the presence of a potential sexual predator in our community,” Stevens said.