An Ontario Superior Court judge has awarded $350,000 in damages to McGill University music graduate Eric Abramovitz in a lawsuit against his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Jooyeon Lee. The judgement was based on her interfering in his career with fraudulent schemes that caught to prevent him from accessing a scholarship that would have allowed him to study with a world-renowned teacher in the United States.
The events occurred in 2013–2014. In 2013, Abramovitz, a gifted musician who now holds the Associate Principal Clarinet seat with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, applied for a two-year scholarship to the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Yehuda Gilad is a renowned teacher who only accepts two students a year.
The scholarship was worth $50,000 a year, which would cover most of his tuition and living expenses.
According to the Montreal Gazette, who broke the story, after taking the first steps of the selection process, Abramovitz went to audition in Los Angeles in February 2014. A month later, he received an email announcing that he was accepted. However, Lee, who lived with Abramovitz and had his password, intercepted the email and deleted it.
Lee then responded to the Colburn Conservatory pretending to be Abramovitz, indicating that he would be declining the scholarship. She then created a spoof email account in the name of Yehuda Gilad (email@example.com) and wrote a message to Abramovitz telling him that he had not been accepted, but was instead offered a place at the University of Southern California (USC), with a scholarship of $5,000. The annual tuition at USC is $51,000, an amount Lee knew Abramovitz would not be able to afford.
Subsequently, Abramovitz decided to complete his studies at McGill. But it was only in 2015, after his separation from Jennifer Lee, that he discovered the subterfuge.
Abramovitz eventually meet Gilad, who asked him directly why he had rejected his offer. This eventually led him to discover the fraudulent email from Lee. He also discovered that Lee had employed a similar process to decline an offer from the Juilliard School of Music. That’s when he decided to sue Jennifer Lee for $300,000.
Ontario Superior Court Judge David L. Corbett rendered his judgment on Wednesday and added $50,000 in exemplary damages.
“I accept and find that Mr. Abramovitz lost a unique and prestigious educational opportunity, one that would have advanced his career as a professional clarinetist. It is difficult to quantify such a loss. Mr. Abramovitz’s life and career have continued. Imagining how his life would have been different if he had studied for two years under Mr. Gilad, and earned his teacher’s respect and support, requires more speculation than the law permits.”
Yehuda Gilad, for his part, wrote, “I am very frustrated that a highly talented musician like Eric was the victim of such an unthinkable, immoral act that delayed his progress and advancement as an up-and-coming young musician and delayed his embarking on a most promising career.”
As for Jennifer Lee, she did not appear in court, and Eric Abramovitz told the media that he was not sure he could be compensated.
This version of this article originally appeared in French on Ludwig Van Montréal.