Eric Abramovitz (Facebook)

Woman must pay musician ex-boyfriend $350K for sabotaging coveted opportunity

Ontario Superior Court justice lambasted Jennifer Lee for ‘despicable conduct’ against Eric Abramovitz

A woman who sabotaged her boyfriend’s highly coveted career opportunity apparently because she feared he would leave her for the United States has been ordered to pay him $350,000 in damages.

In a decision this week, an Ontario Superior Court justice lambasted Jennifer Lee for “despicable conduct” that harmed Eric Abramovitz, an aspiring professional musician in his 20s.

Court records show Lee and Abramovitz were students at the Schulich School of Music at Montreal’s McGill University in 2013 when they began an intimate relationship, and he all but moved in to her apartment. She had full access to his laptop, the records show.

A multiple award-winning clarinetist, Abramovitz applied in December 2013 to study at the prestigious Coburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles under Yehuda Gilad, an internationally renowned clarinet teacher. Although Gilad only accepts two clarinet students a year, Abramovitz made the cut after a rigorous screening and auditioning process, court records show.

In March 2014, the school emailed Abramovitz to say he had been accepted, an offer that carried with it a full two-year scholarship and stipend. Except he never saw the email, court records show.

Lee intercepted and deleted the acceptance and, pretending to be him, declined the offer because he would be “elsewhere,” according to the court.

She also went a step further by composing and sending an email to Abramovitz — purportedly from Gilad — using an email address she created, giladyehuda09@gmail.com, to inform him that he had not been accepted at Coburn, the court said.

“Abramovitz was completely taken in by this deception,” Justice David Corbett wrote. “As a consequence, Mr. Abramovitz lost the two year full-scholarship opportunity to study with Mr. Gilad.”

A year later, after his relationship with Lee had ended, Abramovitz was performing for Gilad again and it began to dawn on him something had been amiss. When he finally figured out what had happened, he sued Lee in August 2016. He claimed damages for her deceit, invasion of his privacy, and intentional or negligent infliction of mental suffering.

Her acts, he claimed, had damaged his reputation, cost him an educational opportunity, and delayed his career advancement thereby costing him lost income.

In a sworn affidavit filed with the court, Gilad denounced what had happened to Abramovitz, who now lives in Nashville but will join the Toronto Symphony Orchestra later this year.

“I am very frustrated that a highly talented musician like Eric was the victim of such an unthinkable, immoral act that delayed his progress and advancement as an up-and-coming young musician and delayed his embarking on a most promising career,” Gilad said.

Lee, who lives in Toronto, never responded to the lawsuit or defended herself, leading Corbett to find her liable by default. Corbett said it appeared her motivation was to ensure Abramovitz would stay in Montreal and remain in their relationship.

In awarding $300,000 to Abramovitz in general damages and another $50,000 in punitive and aggravated damages, Corbett described Lee’s behaviour as a “reprehensible betrayal” of her boyfriend’s trust and an “unthinkable, immoral act.”

“This was despicable conduct by Ms. Lee,” Corbett said in his judgment.

While the punitive damages were modest, Corbett called it a symbolic award that should be taken as “very strong condemnation of morally reprehensible conduct.” The aggravated damages were partial compensation for the loss Abramovitz suffered by having a “closely held personal dream snatched from him by a person he trusted,” Corbett said.

Corbett also ordered Lee, who could not immediately be reached for comment, to pay him $25,000 to cover his legal fees.

Marshall Reinhart, Abramovitz’s lawyer, said in an interview that they now faced the task of collecting on the judgment.

“My client should be compensated for his loss,” Reinhart said. “It was an extreme case of betrayal of trust in addition to what he lost financially.”

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

White Rock rail forum leads to renewed calls for relocation

Upgrading safety is not enough say local politicians

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

White Rock’s Johnston Road to re-open on schedule: city

One lane in each direction expected to open by Friday at 7 p.m.

Two Surrey volleyballers set to play for Team Canada

Brianna Beamish and Kiera Van Ryk in Japan for FIVB World Championships

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read