Former dean Lawrence Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Former dean Lawrence Mitchell of Case Western Reserve University School of Law ()

Case Western Reserve University School of Law dean Lawrence Mitchell has resigned his leadership role.

Mitchell took a voluntary leave of absence on Nov. 6 after being sued by a faculty member. Raymond Ku alleged that Mitchell retaliated against him for reporting Mitchell’s suspected sexual harassment of law school staff to university officials.

Mitchell will remain on the faculty but will spend next year on sabbatical, according to a Feb. 4 email to students from university president Barbara Snyder.

Mitchell, who has vigorously denied the allegations, submitted a resignation letter saying he could not return as dean with “the same energy and enthusiasm that characterized my earlier service,” according to a written statement by the university’s central administration.

“At this point, it is in the best interest of the law school for me to step down as dean,” Mitchell wrote. “I will retain my position as a tenured professor and continue to seek to serve the school however I can.”

Acting deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf have run the Cleveland school since Mitchell stepped away, and the university plans to begin a search for his permanent replacement.

“The university believes strongly in the ability of the judicial system to provide due process and a full and thorough presentation by the university and Mitchell of the facts,” the university said. “In that context, the university will refrain from public comments regarding the case.”

Ku, who has taught at the law school since 2003, filed suit in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 23, seeking more than $25,000 from Mitchell and the university for alleged retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claimed Mitchell stripped him of administrative roles and cut his pay after he reported Mitchell’s potential sexual harassment of several women who work at the law school to university officials.

Ku alleged that officials dismissed his initial claims as unsubstantiated.

Administrators initially defended Mitchell, contending Ku’s lawsuit contained factual inaccuracies and noting that he retained his tenured position despite the alleged retaliation. But Mitchell later indicated the university was conducting an internal investigation of the matter.

Mitchell has been dean at Case Western since 2011, and the university credited him with several initiatives, including an overhaul of the curriculum to emphasize practice skills and professional preparation.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com. For more of The National Law Journal’s law school coverage, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NLJLawSchools.