NU Professor Files Response to Sexual Harassment Suit

Student, now a junior, alleges Peter Ludlow harassed her in 2012

Northwestern University professor Peter Ludlow, the target of a sexual harassment complaint by a female student, filed a response to that woman’s lawsuit in Cook County Court on Friday, denying her allegations and stating that she was the real aggressor.

The student alleged that Ludlow plied her with alcohol, fondled her and propositioned her during an outing to an art show and two other art exhibits in February of 2012.

Through his attorney, Kristin Case, Ludlow contends the student told him she was "real life broke and second life broke" and stated several times that she wanted to date him. Ludlow denied the woman’s allegations that he ordered her alcohol against her wishes and that she became highly intoxicated as the evening wore on.

"Defendant denies ordering wine for Plaintiff and affirmatively states that she ordered her own wine," the court document states. "Defendant denies that Plaintiff ever told him that she did not want to drink or that he insisted that she do so."

Ludlow further denied that he knew the student was underage, believing she was 22 at the time.

"Because of this, he believed her to be older than a traditional freshman would be," the document states.

But Ludlow further denied that the young woman was ever intoxicated at any point during the evening and her allegation that he refused her requests to take her back to Evanston. At one point, he said he took her to a taxi stand and offered to pay her cab fare back to Evanston, only to have the woman say that she no longer wanted to go back and "suggested they go somewhere else."

In her original complaint, the student said Ludlow kissed and fondled her in a bar, and that she eventually ended up incoherent in his Marina City apartment. But Ludlow denied that as well, saying that at one point, the woman asked him, 'Do you think I’m hot?' to which he replied, 'Is that even a serious question?'

"Defendant denies kissing Plaintiff in the bar," the reply continues. "Instead, Defendant states that plaintiff leaned in and kissed him."

Ludlow admits that "he did not initially pull away, but as Plaintiff’s kissing became more involved he pulled away and told her to 'cool it.'" He said she asked him if she could stay at his apartment. But he denied groping her once they got there, as well as the woman’s allegation that he told her it was "inevitable they will have sex."

Indeed, Ludlow repeated his allegation that once they were in his apartment, it was the student who was the aggressor and insisted that he told her he did not want to have sex with her. He says that once the University initiated an investigation of the woman’s complaint, he even offered to obtain and provide security video from his building’s elevator and receipts from the restaurant and bar showing how many drinks had been ordered.

He says the University refused to pursue the evidence he offered, calling their inquiry a "flawed and one-sided investigation."

Ludlow is still employed at Northwestern, but canceled his class this week after learning of a planned student demonstration against him. The University announced he would not teach the two remaining classes of the winter quarter, and would not speculate about his presence in the spring quarter which begins later this month. The student's lawyers issued a response late Friday to Ludlow's claims:

"Defendant Ludlow's Answer is untruthful to the extent that it is inconsistent with any of the allegations in my Client's Complaint. It remains to be seen how the factual inconsistencies between Defendant Ludlow's position and Defendant Northwestern's position will play out over the course of litigation. Beyond that, Defendant Ludlow seems to have taken the all too common "blame the victim" position on sexual assault matters to a whole new level: he isn't just blaming the victim, he has actually attempted to make himself into the victim. Absurd."

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