A Student, a Worried Girlfriend, a Shared Password and an Admissions Lawsuit

Judge orders now ex-girlfriend to pay $284,000 for sabotaging a dream acceptance.

June 18, 2018
(Istockphoto.com/Atejmo)

Most admissions lawsuits are about applicants who are rejected. But Eric Abramovitz won 375,000 Canadian dollars (about $284,000) last week over an admissions offer he turned down. Actually, his then girlfriend turned it down, pretending to be Abramovitz. That set up the unusual court ruling.

As outlined in the ruling issued by a Canadian judge last week, Abramovitz and Jennifer Lee met in 2013 and became a couple while both were studying music at McGill University. While they were involved, Abramovitz shared his laptop -- and his passwords -- with Lee.

Abramovitz was a star student of clarinet, winning numerous prizes. He aspired to finish his bachelor's degree at Colburn Conservatory of Music, in Los Angeles, where he hoped to study with Yehuda Gilad, who only accepts two students a year.

In December 2013, Abramovitz applied and went to Los Angeles when he was invited to audition. On March 27, 2014, he was admitted -- and his admission brought with it a full scholarship.

On that fateful day, Lee checked Abramovitz's email before he did. Using his email account, she turned down the offer and created a fake email account in Gilad's name. Then she sent an email, pretending to be Gilad, rejecting Abramovitz. Lee could not be reached for comment. She did not contest Abramovitz's suit. The court ruling says that she was apparently afraid he would move to Los Angeles, leaving her behind at McGill, in Montreal.

Eventually, Abramovitz did leave for Los Angeles and enrolled in a certificate program at the University of Southern California in which Gilad also taught. That program charged about $25,000, which Abramovitz paid. (He couldn't afford USC's master's degree program, which would have cost him about twice as much in tuition.)

Abramovitz was "completely taken in," the court decision says, and only went to USC after staying in Montreal -- with Lee -- to finish his bachelor's degree.

The scheme unraveled when Abramovitz met Gilad, who is not used to being turned down. As Abramovitz told National Post, when he auditioned for Gilad to enter the USC program, Gilad asked him, "Why did you reject me?" When Gilad showed him the email Lee had sent, Abramovitz was stunned.

But he also had Lee's passwords, and he found the fake emails. He also found she had done the same thing when he won admission to the Juilliard School -- another institution that few admitted applicants turn down.

The Canadian court judged that Lee was responsible for the tuition paid by Abramovitz to USC, the lost opportunities of the scholarship to the conservatory and for delaying the start of his career. The court ruling found that Lee's conduct was "morally reprehensible."

Share Article

Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

Back to Top