Title IX investigation ends with IU Maurer professor’s departure

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When Ian Samuel returned to Twitter on Friday after a nearly six-month absence, he posted his letter of resignation, announcing his decision to leave Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

Samuel had been on leave since IU began an investigation in late 2018 into allegations of Title IX violations. At the close of the investigation, he tendered his resignation rather than pursue an appeal.

“Accepting responsibility means actually doing something, if you can, to spare the people you hurt from any more harm,” Samuel wrote in the letter to IU Provost Lauren Robel. “… In addition to confession and contrition, in other words, sin requires punishment. Part of mine is that I’ll no longer be on the faculty at Indiana University, and I cannot call that result unjust.”

According to Indiana University, the matter has been closed with Samuel’s resignation. In response to an inquiry from the Indiana Lawyer, IU explained the investigation was conducted by the university’s Title IX office and was a personnel matter. It was not a police investigation, so nothing was handed over to an outside agency for further action.

IU Maurer said it does not have a place to fill Samuel’s former position on the faculty. But the law school expects to be looking to hire “talented entry-level or lateral faculty” next year.

Samuel arrived in Bloomington in 2018 with impressive credentials. The charismatic young scholar had clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, worked as an associate at Jones Day in New York and lectured at Harvard Law School. Also, he and Daniel Epps, associate professor at Washington University School of Law, had created and were the regular hosts of the weekly podcast on the U.S. Supreme Court, First Mondays.  

However, before the first semester of his tenure was finished, he was placed on leave after the university started an investigation. IU would not comment beyond acknowledging an investigation had begun. The law school told students that Samuel had checked himself into a hospital.

Samuel was credited with inspiring a #MeToo movement of sorts when he leaked the proposed mandatory arbitration agreement that Munger Tolles & Olson wanted its employees to sign. The agreement included the requirement that summer associates who made sexual harassment claims to submit to binding arbitration.

In response, Munger Tolles tweeted March 25, 2018, that it was wrong and would no longer have employees sign arbitration agreements.  

Samuel last tweeted Nov. 19, 2018, when he responded to a question about search warrants. Then news broke of the Title IX investigation and his Twitter feed went dormant.

He reappeared with the announcement he was leaving IU Maurer, providing a link to his resignation letter. Samuel hinted at the reasons for his downfall.

“… (T)he allegations in this case describe me drinking to excess in a public place I shouldn’t have been, in company I shouldn’t have kept, and treating the people present in ways they didn’t deserve,” he wrote.

Also, he indicated his problems might extend beyond a single incident.

“When the investigation began, a few people I trust suggested that maybe it was time to take a hard look at my life. They were right,” Samuel wrote. “Once I was ready to be honest with myself, I had to admit that the night in question was the clearest sign yet of a problem that had been growing for some time, and which was going to keep growing as long as I kept ignoring it.”

IU never revealed the details of the investigation but did note, “the University received multiple reports alleging that Professor Ian Samuel had engaged in potential Title IX violations during the course of an evening after a law school event.”

In his letter of resignation, Samuel confessed he does not know what he will do next.

“What I do know is that halfway through the journey of my life, I lost — through my own grievous fault — the straightforward path, my sense of right and wrong. It behooves me now to take another road.”

Samuel has returned to Twitter, where he describes himself as a “Catholic American socialist.” But he has left IU and the weekly podcast, First Mondays, has been stopped since February, when co-host Leah Litman and producer Melody Rowell decided to leave the program. Litman had taken Samuel’s place when his troubles began at IU.

The show included reviews of oral arguments before the high court, previews of upcoming cases, commentary on confirmation proceedings, and interviews with authors, lawyers and legal scholars. In July 2017, the podcast formed a partnership with the SCOTUSblog, but Samuel stepped down from co-hosting duties in late 2018, when IU began its inquiry.  

Epps posted a message on Twitter on Feb. 23, 2019, saying with a “heavy heart” he was announcing the departures of Litman and Rowell and the discontinuation of the podcast.

“First Mondays is impossible without them, so I’ve decided to put the show on indefinite hiatus,” Epps wrote. “The show may return down the road, but for the time being we won’t be releasing new weekly episodes.”

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