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6th Cir. Sexual Harassment: Local Law School Dean, School Sued

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 23, 2013 5:37 PM

Let's take a quick break from all of the super-serious crack case law for a moment, shall we?

Meet Case Western Reserve University School of Law Professor Raymond Ku, the former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and former co-Director of the Center for Law, Technology, & the Arts. He filed a lawsuit against the university and its dean, Lawrence E. Mitchell, earlier today.

You might remember Dean Mitchell from his (paraphrasing) "law school is worth it because jobs don't matter and besides, just wait for the baby boomers to die" op-ed.

Betrayal and Retaliation

Why all the "formers" on Ku's C.V.? And why did he sue? Professor Ku alleges that after he noticed Dean Mitchell caressing a Case Western female staff member at a party in 2011, and after hearing numerous other offensive comments and allegations, he reported the possible incidences of sexual harassment to the school's administration.

According to his complaint, Ku met with Provost Bud Baeslack, who reportedly told Ku to take the issue up with Dean Mitchell directly. In the face-to-face meeting, Mitchell allegedly "berated" Ku for his "betrayal" and questioned whether Ku could continue as an associate dean.

Since then, the complaint further alleges, he's lost two of his titles, had his pay cut, and Dean Mitchell has allegedly ended all face-to-face contact with the professor.

Culmination of Rampant Rumors

The sexual harassment claims are just some of allegations of inappropriate conduct that are floating around (and repeated in the lawsuit) since Dean Mitchell arrived in 2011.

A questionable flier, distributed at a City Club event in 2012, alleged that Dean Mitchell had affairs with a Case Western law student, with a Case Western graduate student, with a local attorney, and with some unnamed person's girlfriend, and notes that Mitchell allegedly quipped to fellow faculty members that the graduate student "wasn't good for anything but keeping the bed warm."

The flier (posted online at Above the Law) also points out that Lawrence was formerly married to one of his former students.

The complaint, available on The Plain Dealer's website, also alleges that Dean Mitchell made inappropriate comments about Professor Ku's race, religion, and circumcision status.

University's Response

According to Crain's Cleveland, the University released the following response:

"This situation is categorically not an instance of retaliation. 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 university will have additional comment upon more thorough review of the suit and opposing counsel's press release."

Of course, as any law student, Case Western or otherwise, would know, retaliation isn't limited to keeping one's position. Cuts in duties, compensation, and hostile behavior can suffice too.

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