Scroll down to the UPDATE for corrections to Ms. Schuman's misrepresentations
I was sent the complaint but, unfortunately, can not upload it (this has been an ongoing typepad problem recently, anyone with advice, I would welcome it). But the case is, or at least ought to be, a "slam dunk," since, as we noted previously, there was never any allegation of rape. My guess is that all the defendants will settle quickly, as they should.
Somewhat relatedly, I was sent, earlier today, a Facebook posting by a graduate student saying roughly that "Rutgers has hired someone who sexually assaulted an undergraduate" and then encouraging people to e-mail named Rutgers officials to protest the hiring.
Anyone who posts on Facebook something like that is asking to be sued: for libel (Ludlow was alleged to have engaged in conduct that may constitute sexual assault), for tortious interference with contract, and perhaps other torts. Don't go there, folks.
The allegations are, as Ludlow's lawyer said, serious. If they are true, Northwestern and perhaps Peter Ludlow face very serious consequences, and correctly so. But if they are false, or only partially true, then serious wrongs may have been done to those who are the target of the allegations, which themselves will warrant legal remedies.
As every reader knows, Peter Ludlow was a guest-blogger here in the past. He was invited to guest-blog because of his philosophical work and his other work in the public domain, especially related to cyberspace. I've met Peter Ludlow on two or three occasions, and he participated in a conference here on "Moral Disagreements" a few years ago. I have no insider information about this case. When the story broke, I e-mailed Peter, expecting he would defer to his lawyer, which he did (and which was the correct thing to do). His lawyer has supplied me with a statement, and Peter has supplied me with a copy of the complaint against the news organizations that have almost certainly defamed him. Beyond that, I have no special knowledge, except enough knowledge of law and how litigation goes to recognize some of the imprudent or false things some others have been saying.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 24: I have sent the following e-mail to Emily Bazelon, the editor responsible for the article by Rebecca Schuman:
Dear Ms. Bazelon:
Ms. Schuman identifies you at her blog as the editor supervising her article from today about sexual harassment allegations against philosopher Peter Ludlow. That article includes the following paragraph:
[W]hy are influential voices in the philosophy community giving Ludlow a pass? University of Chicago professor Brian Leiter, for example, posted on his influential philosophy blog this statement from Ludlow’s attorney, with no corresponding statement from the student’s lawyer, and is cautioning his readers not to jump to conclusions. Sure, that’s always good advice, but what about the public findings of Slavin’s office?
Ms. Schuman here recklessly misrepresents my positions in this matter in the following respects:
1. The plaintiff's attorney did not send me a statement, Ludlow’s attorney did. (I did not even know who the plaintiff was at this time, since she had not been named in the news reports.) If the plaintiff's attorney had sent me a statement, I would have posted it, but for obvious reasons, the plaintiff’s attorney probably concluded that reaching an audience of philosophers was not as important for her. (Ms. Schuman never bothered to inquire with me about any of this.) More importantly, and unnoted by Ms. Schuman, I had linked repeatedly and described in detail news articles reporting the plaintiff's account of Ludlow’s conduct: the plaintiff’s allegations had been extensively covered on my blog at the point at which Ludlow’s attorney sent me her statement. I also provided a detailed description of the allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint and, when Northwestern’s answer finally appeared (after the posts Ms. Schuman links to, but before her article appeared), I provided a detailed account of Northwestern’s admissions.
2. At the time I correctly cautioned readers “not to jump to conclusions” (in response to a false statement that Ludlow had “sexually assaulted” the student), the only account of the “public findings of Slavin’s office” were contained in the plaintiff’s complaint, which I had noted at the time. (Slavin’s office did not confirm the sexual assault allegation, as you know.) For the obvious reasons, allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint do not constitute “public findings.” Once Northwestern’s Answer appeared, confirming Ms. Slavin’s findings, I noted that on the blog, but this happened subsequent to the post Ms. Schuman links to (but, again, prior to her article appearing).
3. If Ms. Schuman had done any research at all, she would have not only discovered that the timeline of my postings does not support her insinuations, but also that my blog has been making an issue of sexual harassment problems in the profession for years now. She might also have found out that I have been involved off-line in advising and helping victims of sexual harassment at other universities. That sexual harassment is a serious problem in professional philosophy is consistent with responsible and thorough coverage of the allegations in the Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern, which I have provided, but Ms. Schuman has not.
It is manifestly false that I have given “Ludlow a pass,” and Ms. Schuman’s misrepresentations in support of that falsehood are particularly reckless and malicious given that her article did not appear until February 24, well after all the other relevant postings on this matter appeared, as noted above.
I hope you will see to it that her article is promptly edited to remove the falsehoods and misrepresentations about my views and conduct in this matter.
Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence
Director, Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values
University of Chicago
1111 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637