Philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow is suing three local media companies, claiming their coverage of a Title IX lawsuit against Northwestern was defamatory and portrayed him in a "false light before the public."
Ludlow is suing Sun-Times Media, LLC, WFLD Fox Television Stations, Inc., and Cumulus Broadcasting, LLC, asking for damages for the outlets’ false use of the word “rape” in their descriptions of the allegations against him. He filed the suit Friday morning in Cook County Circuit Court.
The Daily Northwestern writes that in the federal lawsuit filed Monday against NU, a Medill junior alleges she was sexually assaulted by Ludlow. The student claims he bought her alcohol on a trip to an art show in Chicago in February 2012 and refused repeated requests to take her home. Ludlow has denied all allegations against him. The professor is not named as a defendant in the suit.
After the student filed her suit Monday, Sun-Times Media published an article on its local publication, Evanston Review, titled “Student allegedly raped by professor suing Northwestern University.” The article did not identify Ludlow by name. Evanston Review also tweeted the article using the headline for the text of the tweet. The article was also published by Fox Television on its Fox 32 News website and on Cumulus’ WLS-AM 890 website, crediting the Sun-Times’ media wire as the source. Both outlets also tweeted the story.
In the lawsuit, the student did not claim Ludlow raped her or that the two engaged in sexual intercourse.
Both the Sun-Times and Fox removed the word “rape” from their publications of the article. Cumulus republished the article under a revised title but did not remove the original post from its website, according to Ludlow’s lawsuit. As of Friday afternoon, the word remained in the URL of Fox's story.
The media coverage of the student's lawsuit caused Ludlow to suffer “damage to his reputation, emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment,” the professor’s lawsuit claims. The media outlets acted in “reckless disregard as to the falsity of the publicized matter and the false light in which Plaintiff Ludlow would be placed,” the suit says.
The three companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.