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Ex-Dean’s Relationship with Student Has Columbia U Facing $60M Lawsuit

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A woman who was in a hot-for-teacher situation wants $60 million in damages and is suing Columbia University for it. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A woman who was in a hot-for-teacher situation wants $60 million in damages and is suing Columbia University for it. She already sought justice but now wants even more money, feeling that the university caused her a lot of damage by making her drop out once she decided to sue the university, The New York Post reports.

One of the other big bits of news from this courtroom development is that her identity also wound up being revealed. “Jane Doe” is really a woman named Irene Politis, who wanted $50 million from Columbia initially. She felt that there was action being taken against her because of the lawsuit.

“She was informed that she was only permitted to communicate with the university through a single administrator,” the updated lawsuit says.

The rule where she could only work through one administrator made it impossible for her to attend classes, she argued, with the lawsuit detailing how she “needed to contact various administrative offices to secure disability accommodations and financial aid assistance, among other services.”

The meat of the lawsuit should send a chill up the spine of any parent sending a child to college, with a former dean, Tom Harford, allegedly using his power to leverage her into an inappropriate relationship after she confided in him that she was raped and needed help sorting out her housing situation, the New York Post reports.

“Over the course of the summer, Harford used his power and influence at Columbia to coerce Plaintiff into an inappropriate sexual and romantic relationship,” according to court papers.

He said he would try getting her a scholarship and also “cash from his pocket” in the amount of $500, according to the lawsuit.

David Sanford worked a previous case in which his client, ex-Columbia Business School professor Enrichetta Ravina, had a jury award $1.25 million following a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against a senior colleague. Politis has also chosen to use Sanford’s services.

“Columbia has worked diligently to support Ms. Politis with appropriate resources and guidance, including continuing to provide campus housing,” a spokeswoman said through a statement “She was not asked to leave her Columbia apartment.”

The university said the dean was taken out of his position following allegations.

“These actions were taken in a matter of days, reflecting Columbia’s commitment to the safety and well-being of our students,” the spokeswoman said.

The Jewish Voice has reported about Columbia in recent years across a range of issues like anti-Semitism worries on campus and the rising #MeToo movement. For the Ravina case, under the jury’s findings based on the New York City Human Rights Law, Columbia has liabilities. Ravina, a former assistant professor of finance and economics at the Columbia Business School, had filed a lawsuit against Columbia University and Prof.

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