A professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law has sued law dean Lawrence Mitchell, alleging that he punished him for reporting allegations that the dean had sexually harassed staff members and had a sexual relationship with a student.
Professor Raymond Ku filed the suit in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday, seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Mitchell and the university for retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claims Mitchell stripped him of administrative roles and cut his pay after Ku reported Mitchell.
“Professor Ku paid a high price for doing what was both required and right—standing up for victims at great personal risk and reporting to senior university officials Dean Mitchell’s potential harassment,” said Ku’s attorney, Subodh Chandra.
Case Western issued a brief written statement to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper denying that any retaliation took place.
“This situation is categorically not an instance of retaliation,” the university said. “Professor Ku continues to hold a full-time, tenured faculty position at the School of Law. The lawsuit itself includes inaccuracies, as well as an inflammatory flier that has been found to be materially false.”
The suit alleges that Ku’s problems with Mitchell arose shortly after Mitchell’s installation as dean in 2011, with Mitchell making comments about circumcision to Ku upon learning that that he was converting to Judaism.
Ku later alleges that he observed Mitchell acting inappropriately with a female faculty member at a party and heard claims of sexual harassment from other women who worked at the law school.
Ku, then the associate dean for academic affairs, took his concerns to university provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III, who ultimately said that Ku should address his concerns with Mitchell, according to the complaint.
When Ku did so, the dean accused him of being “disloyal,” according to the suit. In the following months, Ku claims, Mitchell punished him by adding to his teaching load, reducing his pay and stripping him of his associate dean role.
Ku took his allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation to the university’s office of inclusion, diversity and equal opportunity, but ultimately administrators there concluded that he had not been retaliated against, the complaint says.
“Dean Mitchell’s conduct in haranguing Professor Ku for reporting the Dean’s sexually harassing behavior and retaliating against Professor Ku for reporting that misbehavior was extreme and outrageous,” the suit reads. “For an Ivy-League-educated attorney to engage in such conduct is shocking.”