A Canadian Jewish clarinetist has successfully sued his ex-girlfriend, who secretly derailed his career by faking a rejection letter from a prestigious music program to prevent him from breaking up with her.
A judge in Ontario this week ordered Jennifer Lee to pay Eric Abramovitz over $300,000 in compensation for her “despicable interference” in his promising career as a clarinetist four years ago.
In 2014, Abramovitz was a student at McGill University in Quebec when he applied for a competitive two-year scholarship at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, wanting to study under renowned clarinetist Yehuda Gilad. Each year, Gilad only accepts two students to work with, and the scholarship Abramovitz applied for would have covered the $51,000 tuition and living expenses at the prestigious school for both years.
The Montreal Gazette said the once in a lifetime opportunity to study under Gilad at the Los Angeles institution is “virtually a guarantee of a high-paying symphony career directly out of college.”
But when Gilad contacted Abramovitz to congratulate him on winning the scholarship, he never received the email. Unbeknownst to him, Lee, his then-live-in girlfriend, intercepted Gilad’s email and turned down the offer in his name to prevent Abramovitz moving away and ending their relationship. Lee deleted Gilad’s email, and created a new email address, similar to Gilad’s real one, and wrote Abramovitz a rejection letter.
“I was numb when I read the email. I had to read it a few more times,” Abramovitz, now 24, told BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “When I found out I didn’t get [the scholarship], it was really hard to deal with. I went through some really dark, sad, angry days.”
He called it “disturbing” that Lee was the one to console him after he was ostensibly rejected. “I just can’t believe that someone would not have an overwhelming amount of guilt lying to someone, betraying someone like that,” he told the website.
The couple split later in 2014, but Lee’s sabotage wasn’t discovered for another two years. That was when Abramovitz auditioned for Gilad while applying to study at a separate music program in California, and the famed teacher asked him why he had declined the opportunity to study under him two years before.
Gilad told a stunned Abramovitz that he had been accepted to the program. When Abramovitz retrieved the “rejection” letter from 2014, Gilad confirmed that it was not from his genuine email address.
With the help of a friend, Abramovitz confirmed that Gilad’s fake email account that sent him the rejection letter was linked to Lee’s cellphone.
Discovering that he had actually been accepted to the Colburn program was one of the most “shattering” moments of his life, he told BuzzFeed, calling Lee’s actions “the ultimate betrayal.”
On Wednesday, an Ontario Superior Court judge sided with Abramovitz, who had sued Lee for $284,000 in general damages, including for loss of reputation, loss of educational opportunity, and loss of two years of potential income. The judge tacked on an extra $50,000 “against Ms. Lee for her despicable interference in Mr. Abramovitz’s career.”