NU Student Details Professor's Alleged Harassment

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northwestern student speaks exclusively to NBC 5's Phil Rogers about what she says happened the night she accompanied her professor to Chicago. (Published Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014)

    What has become a heated series of allegations between a Northwestern University student and one of her professors heated up even more Tuesday, as the young woman stepped forward to say that the professor balked at her repeated requests to be taken home during an evening where she contends he fondled and sexually harassed her on an outing in downtown Chicago.

    The instructor, philosophy professor Peter Ludlow, contends it was the student who propositioned him. He insists the young woman continued to try to contact him in the days after the alleged incident took place, and that he has text messages to prove it. But the student, now a Northwestern junior, insists Ludlow was the aggressor, during what was supposed to be a trip to an art show at Columbia College.

    "I just thought this was a great opportunity to get to know my professor a little bit better," she said, telling her story publicly for the first time. "Since he had a reputation of being an uncle-like figure on campus, I just didn't think this was going to be a traumatic night."

    What ensued, she says, was an evening where she claims she was encouraged to drink, was fondled and propositioned, and ended with her waking up in the bedroom of Ludlow's Marina City apartment.

    NU Professor Defends Himself Against Student's Lawsuit

    [CHI] NU Professor Defends Himself Against Student's Lawsuit
    A Northwestern University professor who a student claims sexually harassed her, says the student was the real aggressor. Phil Rogers reports. (Published Thursday, Feb 13, 2014)

    Last week, the young woman filed a Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern, charging unlawful discrimination and retaliation by the University after she reported the alleged harassment.

    In addition to the art show, the woman says Ludlow insisted on going to dinner, where she says he encouraged her to drink, even though she says she kept reminding him that she was underage.

    "He kept on telling me I should drink up," she said. "He said, 'why are you not drinking?'"

    She says she fell more and more under the influence of the alcohol during a visit to two more art galleries and two different bars. Eventually she alleges, Ludlow made his intentions known.

    "He started kissing me in front of everyone," she said. "He was just, 'You have no idea how lucky you are that someone like me would find you very attractive.'"

    The woman says Ludlow took her to his Marina City apartment, where she woke up in his bed, her blouse unbuttoned, with the professor's arms around her.

    "I woke up and he told me, 'it's inevitable that we're going to have sex,'" she said.

    The woman says that didn't happen and that she eventually convinced Ludlow to take her home.

    She filed a complaint with the University, and in an email, 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 initiated 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 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."

    The woman says she did try to contact Ludlow, but only in an effort to confront him.

    Northwestern University has declined comment on the alleged episode, citing the ongoing litigation.