CWRU professor sues law school dean, university

Faculty member claims he experienced retaliation upon reporting sexual harrassment

Tyler Hoffman, Sheehan Hannan, and Mike McKenna

Lawrence E. Mitchell, dean of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, is a scholar of the legal system from which he now must defend himself. Mitchell and Case Western Reserve are the defendants in a lawsuit filed by Professor Raymond Ku, a tenured School of Law faculty member. Ku previously served as the law school’s associate dean for academic affairs.
Ku filed the lawsuit on Oct. 23 in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas; the case is assigned to Judge Peter J. Corrigan.

The suit alleges Mitchell committed sexually inappropriate acts while serving as dean of the law school, a role he has held since 2011, and that Ku was retaliated against for reporting such acts.

According to Ku’s attorneys, Mitchell directed inappropriate gestures and comments towards females in the law school, including engaging in the public caressing of a female colleague, who was wearing a summer dress with a bare-skinned back. Additionally, Mitchell allegedly commented to staff members that one graduate student “wasn’t good for anything but keeping the bed warm.”

Ku’s attorneys allege Mitchell retaliated against the tenured professor for reporting the harassment by threatening to terminate his employment, dismissing him from the role of associate dean, discrediting him among his colleagues, refusing to consider him for an endowed academic chair position, docking his pay and discontinuing his co-directorship of the Center for Law, Technology & the Arts, a position he had served in for the past seven years.

Provost W.A. “Bud” Baeslack III, Faculty Diversity Officer John Clochesy and Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity Marilyn Mobley were allegedly made aware of Ku’s claims of retaliation but did not intervene.

Following the filing of the lawsuit, Case Western Reserve issued a statement on behalf of the university and Mitchell. “This situation is categorically not an instance of retaliation,” the statement reads. “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.”

In addition to the acts alleged to have occurred on the Case Western Reserve campus, the suit draws attention to concerns supposedly expressed by the search committee regarding Mitchell’s time at George Washington University.

According to the court documents, the search committee was made aware that, while a professor at George Washington University, Mitchell divorced his wife to marry a student, divorced the student and married a female law faculty member and divorced the female faculty member after the two adopted a child.

“The only question now is whether Case [Western Reserve] will continue to blindly back Dean Mitchell despite these circumstances, or whether it will live up to its own policies and ideals for the sake of its students, staff, and faculty,” Subodh Chandra, lead counsel for Ku, said in a press statement.

The law school professor is seeking an end to the alleged retaliation, admittance that the defendants’ conduct violates Ohio Law and unspecified monetary damages,