Unusual sexual harassment lawsuit at Northwestern U. Should colleges and universities indemnify students who bring charges of sexual assault for lawsuits launched by their alleged attackers? Opponents, meanwhile, say that such policies could encourage false claims. Earlier this year, news broke that an undergraduate at Northwestern was suing the university for violations of Title IX the Education Amendments of in how it handled her complaint of sexual assault against Peter Ludlow, an associate professor of philosophy there.
The student said that Ludlow assaulted her after an evening out together at an art exhibit and several bars. After an investigation, the university found that Ludlow had violated its sexual harassment policy — but not enough to fire him.
Northwestern enacted some sanctions, such as precluding Ludlow from a pay raise for a year, and told him to avoid social contact with students. After details of the case were made publicincluding by Northwestern in unusual statement, another student — this time a Northwestern university sexuality studies scandal. The graduate student first disclosed the alleged assault to Jennifer Lackey, another professor of philosophy, who reported it to the university and helped file a formal complaint.
Now, Ludlow is suing the university, Lackey and — in a relatively unprecedented move — the graduate student for defamation, false light invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy. Ludlow denies the assault claim, pointing to the fact that he and the graduate student had engaged in a consensual relationship prior to the assault.
Lackey is indemnified by the university in this suit, as her involvement relates to her employee status. But the student may not be. Lackey said she, too, was legally limited in commenting on the active case against her.
But she said it highlights the importance of indemnification policies protecting students who report sexual assault to their institutions and participate in Title IX investigations. On the flip side, Lee said, as an alternative to suing those who report sexual assault for defamation, respondents who feel they've been treated unfairly could lodge federal complaints against their universities for mishandling a Title IX case.
In their letter, the Northwestern graduate students also suggest that course of action for dissatisfied Title IX respondents, saying: But blanket student indemnification for students participating in Title IX investigations has its Northwestern university sexuality studies scandal, too, with some saying that guaranteeing a shield against legal fallout could encourage false claims. Even outside of highly charged sexual assault cases, indemnification remains controversial.
Giacomo claimed that Columbia had tainted the plagiarism investigation by shielding the accusers from any eventual lawsuit. Sokolow also said indemnification could make institutions more legally vulnerable down the line. Ludlow, who is Northwestern university sexuality studies scandal teaching this quarter but remains on the Northwestern faculty, did not respond to a request for comment.
The graduate student co-defendant referred questions back to Lackey. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter. View the discussion thread. Please sign in to update your newsletter preferences. You must verify your email address before signing in. Check your email for your verification email, or enter your email address in the form below to resend the email. Please confirm the information below before signing in.
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