People in love do strange things, but sabotaging their partner’s career is not typically one of them.
A Canadian court has ruled that’s what Jennifer Lee did to her boyfriend by deleting an email he’d received from a prestigious music school and replacing it with a fake rejection note.
On Wednesday, Ontario Superior Court Judge David Corbett found that Lee deliberately stalled the career of then-boyfriend Eric Abramovitz in 2014 when the two of them were music students at McGill University in Montreal. Corbett awarded a judgment worth $260,000 in U.S. dollars as payback.
In late 2013, Abramovitz applied to study at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles under Yehuda Gilad. The famed clarinet teacher accepts only two new students a year. Each one receives a full scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, and money for other expenses.
Perhaps most important, the chosen few are virtually guaranteed a high-paying symphony career upon graduation, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Abramovitz went through an extensive screening process, including a live audition in February 2014, and felt confident he’d be accepted, according to The Washington Post. But a few weeks later, he received a rejection email. He was crushed and chose to finish his bachelor’s degree at McGill.
Two years passed before Abramovitz discovered that he’d actually been accepted and that Lee, whom he had been dating for five months at the time, had forged the rejection note.
Abramovitz told the court that Lee had access to his email and was able to delete the real acceptance letter before he could see it. He said Lee also impersonated him and sent Gilad an email declining the offer.
Her alleged motive: to keep Abramovitz from moving away.
After earning his degree at McGill, Abramovitz was still determined to learn from Gilad. He entered a two-year certificate program at the University of Southern California, which allowed him much less study time with the master teacher and didn’t come with a full scholarship.
At a second meeting, Gilad asked Abramovitz, “Why did you reject me?” The student replied, “Why did you reject me?”
The two musicians couldn’t figure out what had happened. Eventually, Abramovitz forwarded the fake rejection email to Gilad, who replied, “I’ve never seen that in my life,” according to the National Post.
“That’s when I knew that something underhanded was afoot,” Abramovitz told the paper.
In 2015, he and a friend tried to gain access to the email account that had sent him the fake rejection letter. Since Abramovitz and Lee once shared a computer, he knew one of her passwords.
“Miraculously, it logged right in,” he said, and what she’d done became clear. “We felt like Sherlock Holmes.”
At that point, Abramovitz told Gilad. He also hired an attorney and contacted Lee, whom he was no longer dating.
“At first she tried to deny it, but the evidence I had was overwhelming,” Abramovitz told BuzzFeed. “Then she blocked me on social media and we only spoke to each other through lawyers.”
Lee did not respond multiple times to the court action, which is one reason why the judge ruled for Abramovitz. “A defendant who has been noted in default is deemed to admit the truth of all allegations of fact made in the statement of claim,” the judge wrote.
Abramovitz is happy with the verdict, although he told the National Post he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to collect the damage award from Lee.
Meanwhile, he is in a better place in both his career and his personal life. Not only has Abramovitz just got a new position as associate principal and E flat clarinetist at the Toronto Symphony, but he has a new girlfriend, according to BuzzFeed.
“We’re really happy,” he said. “I would like to think that since my first relationship, my judgment of character has improved just a little bit.”