Eric Abramovitz’s dream had always been to study under one of the best clarinet teachers in the world, Yehuda Gilad, on a full-ride scholarship to the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles.
Abramovitz was a college sophomore when he went through the exhaustive and competitive audition process and came out on top, being one of the two students to receive the full-ride scholarship.
Except there was only one problem, he never accepted the honor, as he received a rejection letter instead.
“I was numb when I read the email. I had to read it a few more times. When I found out I didn’t get it, it was really hard to deal with. I went through some really dark, sad, angry days,” Abramovitz, now 24, told BuzzFeed News.
But little did he know, the rejection letter was fake. At the time he auditioned for the scholarship, he was in a very serious relationship with Jennifer Lee, who was also a musician.
According to interviews and court documents filed in Abramovitz’s successful lawsuit against Lee, she found the acceptance email on Abramovitz’s computer and feared that he would take the opportunity, move away and ultimately break up with her.
Lee hacked into Abramovitz’s email account and rejected the scholarship offer. After deleting the evidence of her meddling, she created a fake email and sent the rejection letter that Abramovitz later found.
In the fake rejection email, Lee instead offered Abramovitz a spot at University of Southern California with $5,000 a year for an annual tuition of about $51,000, plus living expenses, which she knew he couldn’t afford, and he ultimately declined.
Six months after the incident, the two broke up because “things were getting too intense and some things just weren’t working out,” Abramovitz said.
After graduating from McGill, Abramovitz decided to audition for a place at USC, where Gilad also taught.
After the audition, the two went into a room to discuss Abramovitz’s performance, and Gilad asked what him was doing there, “He was like, ‘You rejected me. Why are you here?” Abramovitz said, “I was like, ‘Uh, no, you rejected me,’ and he was like, ‘No, you did,’ and we had this awkward exchange where we kept going back and forth like that and I thought maybe he had confused me with someone else.”
Ignoring the tension, Abramovitz was offered a spot at USC’s certificate program and began studying under Gilad.
A few months later, one of Gilad’s other students finally questioned Abramovitz, “Why didn’t you study at Colburn when you had the chance?”
Abramovitz didn’t know how to reply and thought, “there must be something I don’t know if everyone thinks I got in.” He began to investigate and showed Gilad the fake rejection email, who confirmed that it wasn’t his real email address.
Once he and his friends pieced together all the information they had from years earlier, he informed Gilad, contacted Lee, and hired an attorney.
“At first she tried to deny it, but the evidence I had was overwhelming. Then she blocked me on social media and we only spoke to each other through lawyers,” Abramovitz said.
After taking it to court, an Ontario Superior Court judge sided with Abramovitz on Wednesday, ruling that he receive the $300,000 in “general damages, including for loss of reputation, loss of educational opportunity, and loss of two years of potential income” of the original lawsuit, also adding an additional $50,000 “against Ms. Lee for her despicable interference in Mr. Abramovitz’s career,” Buzzfeed News reported.
Lee did not respond to the court on multiple occasions, ultimately limiting her opportunity to any legal defense going forward, “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.
“It’s very hard to know what my path would have been had this not happened. But I am happy and proud of myself because I landed on my feet. I have no regrets. I have always aspired to make a living doing what I love, and I have, so I am very fortunate,” Abramovitz said from his apartment in Tennessee, where he has currently been performing as part of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
Abramovitz is also in another relationship in which he said, “We’re really happy. I would like to think that since my first relationship my judgment of character has improved just a little bit.”
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