Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Art Show Led to Sexual Assault, Student Says

CHICAGO (CN) - A Northwestern student says in court that she tried to kill herself after her philosophy professor plied her with alcohol and sexually assaulted her.

The Feb. 26 lawsuit against Peter Ludlow in Cook County Court comes two weeks after his accuser sued Northwestern University for its response to her alleged assault. Ludlow, who denies the sexual harassment claims, is meanwhile suing media outlets that allegedly mischaracterized the allegations against him as rape.

Ludlow's former student said she took his class Philosophy of Cyberspace in the fall of her freshman year, "exploring the philosophical meaning of what is considered 'real life' and what is considered 'virtual life.'"

Things allegedly went too far after the student told Ludlow about a February 2012 art event related to Ludlow's field of study and suggested he should attend. Ludlow then invited her to see the show together, and she accepted, according to the complaint.

The student said Ludlow repeatedly talked about his sex life on their outing, and forced her to drink alcohol, despite her protest "that she is underage and that she does not want to drink."

After prolonging the evening with more art exhibits and stops at a bar, Ludlow allegedly took pictures of the intoxicated student and rested his head on her shoulder.

When he finally agreed to take her home, Ludlow first wanted to drop something off at his apartment and insisted that she come upstairs with him, where he again pressured her to have a drink, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff said she panicked when, in view of his bed, Ludlow said "he had slept with students before when he was at other schools."

"Thinking as quickly as she can, she mentions another event that defendant had expressed interest in earlier in the night," the complaint states. "Defendant agrees to go to the event, and defendant and plaintiff leave his domicile."

Ludlow instead allegedly took the student to another bar.

The student said Ludlow began kissing her there when she was "too intoxicated to put up any meaningful resistance to defendant's unwelcome advances."

"The next thing plaintiff can recall, she is in an elevator going up to defendant's apartment," the complaint states. "Defendant Ludlow is furiously making out with plaintiff against her will.

"Plaintiff begs defendant to stop. He gropes her breast and buttocks. Defendant tells plaintiff that it is 'inevitable' that they will have sex.

"Plaintiff's next recollection is waking up at around 4:00 a.m. in defendant Ludlow's bed. Defendant is in bed with her, his arms are around her. Plaintiff panics and blacks out.

"The following day, defendant drops plaintiff off in Evanston around noon on February 11, 2012. Defendant Ludlow tells her that he is looking forward to seeing her against and kisses her for the last time."

The student reported the professor's conduct, and then attempted suicide two days later, according to the complaint.

Though Northwestern's subsequent investigation confirmed that Ludlow made inappropriate sexual advances on the student, according to the complaint, the professor was never removed from campus.

In addition to feeling "extremely unsafe" when she sees Ludlow at school, the student said she "experiences panic attacks, difficulty breathing, and nausea."

"Her attacks are so severe that plaintiff is not even able to leave her house on some days," the complaint states.

The student seeks punitive damages for violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act. She is represented by Kevin O'Connor in Lombard, Ill.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.