A Canadian clarinetist, whose ex-girlfriend deleted a scholarship acceptance letter and wrote a fake rejection, has been awarded more than $300,000 in damages.
Eric Abramovitz had trained for years to be accepted for a scholarship at the prestigious Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, and said he had dreamed of studying music there since he was seven-years-old.
With only two spots available each year, thousands of talented musicians compete for one of the coveted places, which come with the opportunity to train under one of the world’s best clarinet teachers.
In 2014, the then-20-year-old was devastated to receive an email, which purported to be from his idol – renowned clarinetist Yehuda Gilad – telling him he had missed out on the scholarship, which was worth more than $50,000 for each year of study.
The elite musician was comforted by his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lee - who was also a musician - but little did he know she was the one who had deleted his acceptance letter, and forged an email of rejection, using their shared laptop.
“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,” the 20-year-old said.
A Canadian judge concluded Ms Lee had deleted the acceptance letter because she did not want him to move from Montreal, where they both lived, to California.
Ms Lee used her ex-boyfriend’s email account to decline the offer sent by Mr Gilad, and then created an email address using his name to send the fake rejection letter.
Not only did Ms Lee send rejection – she also created a fake scholarship opportunity, which claimed to offer $5000 each year, an opportunity she knew her ex-boyfriend could not afford.
“We were living together at the time, so she was the one to console me when I found out,” Mr Abramovitz said.
The couple broke up six months after the fake emails were sent, but the repercussions of Ms Lee’s actions were felt long after the relationship dissolved.
Determined to study under his idol, the young clarinetist auditioned for Mr Yehuda a second time and it was then that Mr Yehuda asked why he had rejected the prestigious offer in the first place.
After a number of people asked him the same question, Mr Abramovitz traced the account of the fake email address, but never suspected it would be his ex-girlfriend.
Ms Lee did not defend herself in court.
“Mr Abramovitz was completely taken in by this deception,” an Ontario Superior Court judge said, as the court ruled in favour of awarding the musician damages for loss of education opportunity and potential income, as well as an additional $50,000 for her “despicable” conduct.
Mr Abramovitz said while the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend had been devastating at the time, it did not stop him from achieving his dream.
“I landed on my feet, I have no regrets… I would like to think that since my first relationship, my judgement of character has improved just a little bit,” he said.
“I still got to do what I set out to do.”