'Monica' Moniker Spurs Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Jeff McKay | July 7, 2008 | 8:03pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - A New York judge has paved the way for a former college student to file sexual harassment charges against a teacher and a school. The student claims the repeated comments comparing her to Monica Lewinsky created a "sexually hostile environment, caused humiliation, and made her unable to concentrate."

According to Judge David Hurd's decision, which allowed the case to continue, the "harassment consisted of Professor [Alex] Young continuously referring to the plaintiff as 'Monica Lewinsky' throughout the fall [1998] semester, and making comments which associated [her] with some of Lewinsky's more notorious conduct.

According to Hurd's ruling, "Young observed the plaintiff wore the same color lipstick as Monica Lewinsky, and made comments such as, 'How was your weekend with Bill,' and 'Shut up, Monica. I'll give you a cigar later.' All these comments were made in front of the entire class."

"This is nothing more than a frivolous case. It's ridiculous," said attorney Kenneth Kelly, representing the 72-year-old Young. The attorney for the former professor from State University of New York at New Paltz says his client did indeed make the comments on more than one or two occasions to the plaintiff, identified as Inbal Hayut, an Israeli immigrant who has since left the school.

"Alex Young never, at any time, propositioned, used profane language, made sexually lewd or suggestive remarks, or made any threats of a sexual nature toward the plaintiff. What was said was in jest. Even the plaintiff's attorney claims there was never any allegations in these areas, nor was the plaintiff propositioned in any way by Professor Young," Kelly contends.

"This would be no different from a woman running for class president and being called Hillary Clinton, or someone overweight being compared to Roseanne (Arnold)," Kelly said.

The suit also charges the school refused to take any action. Representatives at SUNY New Paltz, "declined to comment on an ongoing legal matter."

Juli Nadler, a spokesperson for Monica Lewinsky, says this comes as a shock and surprise to the former Clinton intern. "Monica is dismayed this incident ever occurred."

The lawyer for Hayut, William Martin, was unavailable for comment, but was quoted as saying, "She's a sweet, shy girl and this was very difficult for her. Some of the students at New Paltz didn't know her by any other name but Monica."

Young's attorney does plan a vigorous defense of his client. "There have been no facts developed in pretrial. I will be calling students who were in the class, and I look forward to taking depositions, including that of the plaintiff."

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