Some clarifications

In online discussions of the Northwestern lawsuit, I’ve seen various confusions about some of the details, so I thought it might be worth clarifying a few points:

  • According to the student’s lawyer, Northwestern University’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office substantiated the bulk of the student’s initial claims against Prof. Ludlow. An email summarizing these findings, from Director of Sexual Harassment Prevention (and Title IX Coordinator) Joan Slavin to the student, has been produced by the student’s lawyer (as reported here).


  • The student’s lawsuit itself states the following:

Based on the totality of the evidence, Ms. Slavin concluded that Ludlow engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances toward Plaintiff on the evening of February 10-11, 2012. In particular, Ms. Slavin found that Ludlow initiated kissing, French kissing, rubbing Plaintiff’s back, and sleeping with his arms on and around Plaintiff on the night of February 10-11, 2012. She also found that “you [—] were incapacitated due to heavy consumption of alcohol purchased for you by Respondent [Ludlow], 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.”

  • The statement from Prof. Ludlow’s lawyer does not deny that the Sexual Harassment Prevention Office substantiated the bulk of the student’s claims. The statement does deny any knowledge of a recommendation for Prof. Ludlow’s termination, but does not at any point deny that claims of misconduct were substantiated by the university.


  • The statement from Prof. Ludlow’s lawyer does deny the allegations of sexual harassment and assault (“Mr. Ludlow denies [the plaintiff’s] allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted her”), as well as denying that ‘any inappropriate conduct’ (“Mr. Ludlow did not assault P nor did he engage in any inappropriate conduct”). But the statement does not specify which of the detailed points of the student’s story are thereby being denied.