Case Western Reserve University School of Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell, who took a leave of absence on Wednesday in light of a retaliation suit filed by a faculty member, has come out swinging against his accuser in court documents.
Mitchell on Thursday filed an emergency motion to strike major elements from professor Raymond Ku’s lawsuit, denouncing that content as “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous.”
The motion paints Ku, a tenured faculty member 2003, as a bitter academic passed over for the deanship years ago who is trying to ruin Mitchell’s reputation.
“The sole purpose of Ku’s irrelevant and salacious allegations is to attempt to embarrass Dean Mitchell and the law school, to provide an outlet for Ku’s continuing disappointment about having vied for, and having lost, the deanship position that went to Dean Mitchell, and to cover up and distract from his unsatisfactory performance,” Mitchell’s motion reads.
Ku’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, countered that Ku had been nominated for the deanship by someone other than himself and that two other internal candidates were also passed over without incident.
“It’s understandable that Mr. Mitchell would now want allegations regarding his own behavior hidden from scrutiny,” Chandra said. “All allegations in the amended complaint have a good-faith factual basis and are relevant to the lawsuit—and we will respond accordingly with the court.”
In announcing his leave, Mitchell told the law school community that Ku’s lawsuit had become a distraction on campus. He said the university was conducting an independent investigation of the matter.
Ku filed suit against Mitchell and Case Western on Oct. 23 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, alleging that Mitchell retaliated against him for bringing concerns about Mitchell’s possible sexual harassment of female faculty members to the attention of university leaders. Officials later found his claims to be unsubstantiated, according to Ku’s suit, and Mitchell then stripped him of his associate dean position.
Ku’s initial complaint included claims that Mitchell had stroked a female faculty member’s back at a law school party and made inappropriate comments to several staff members. He amended that complaint on Oct. 31, adding that a Mitchell had propositioned a staff member to engage in a “threesome.”
That claim is just one of many that Mitchell is seeking to strike from the complaint.
“There is nothing about Ku’s allegation that Dean Mitchell requested a ‘threesome’ that is either true or relevant to Ku’s retaliation claim,” the motion reads.
Among other excisions sought, Mitchell asked the court to remove references to his reputation during his earlier stint at the George Washington University Law School; to a flyer distributed during a legal event that alleged he had multiple affairs; and to an allegation that he had an affair with a student.