Academic Defamation Spat Is The Talk Of The Halls At Ohio College

academic defamationAnd you thought high school students were catty? Well, they “ain’t got nothing” on a passel of professors at Oberlin College currently caught up in a messy tangle of calumny. Accusations of murder, bribery and green card marriage proposals have been flying through the school’s hallowed halls – and what has emerged is a whopper of a defamation lawsuit.

The Tale Of Two Professors

The two main players in this academic libel throw down are Ali Yedes and Samir Amin Abdellatif. Both are gainfully employed by Oberlin College, and, judging by all accounts, the two gentlemen aren’t what you’d call friends. No, it can be safely assumed that they can’t stand each other. From the read of it, Yedes’s and Abdellatif’s relationship resembles a Capulets and Montagues situation.

Accusations (Of Premeditated Murder!)

It’s unclear when the animosity between the two sparked, but over the years, according to the lawsuit, Abdellatif has allegedly accused Yedes of:

  1. Threatening to enlist a Tunisian relative to go all Tony Soprano on (i.e., whack) another professor named Eunjung An (who, subsequently, sued Oberlin for failing to appropriately handle that situation);
  2. Engaging in forgery to help a colleague-friend get a promotion;
  3. “Spying on Jews” by guise of participation in inter-faith groups;
  4. Trying to bribe a teaching assistant into marrying him.

Professor Files Defamation Suit To Stop The Reputation Bleeding

Yedes denies it all and maintains that Abdellatif’s accusations are vicious lies intended to harm his professional reputation. In the words of Yedes lawsuit, Abdellatif’s actions “exposed [Yedes] to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame and/or disgrace, threats on his life and well-being that have made him fear for his safety.” Additionally, Yedes is claiming “loss of opportunity, humiliation, embarrassment, damage to reputation, loss of self-esteem, physical damages and emotional and psychological distress.”

What Must One Prove To Win A Defamation Suit In The United States?

Though slander and libel laws differ slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, all state and federal defamation statutes contain at least three elements – all of which must be met in order for a court to deem an incident defamatory. Those elements are:

  1. Publication of a Lie – The first element of defamation is the publication of an unprivileged, false statement of fact (a.k.a., a lie). You can’t sue someone for slander or libel if you can’t prove that he or she was the one who published or published the false statement of fact on which you’re basing your defamation charge.
  2. Harm & Loss – In order to win a defamation lawsuit, the statement under review must have caused harm to the plaintiff’s reputation. Additionally, except for defamation per se cases, slander and libel claimants must prove that the statements in question caused some sort of material harm (i.e., financial loss, loss of job, et cetera).
  3. Fault – Citizens of the United States enjoy considerable free speech liberties. So, it’s acceptable for someone to accidentally tell a false statement of fact if they had every reason to believe it to be true and their motivation was not malicious. In order to win a defamation suit, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was at least negligent in forwarding the information at hand.

In terms of this case, if Yedes can prove that he did not engage in any of the activities Abdellatif attributed to him, Yedes could win – and win big. After all, it sounds like his career was severely stalled because of the row. If, however, Abdellatif speaks the truth, then Yedes may lose.

Contact A Defamation Attorney Today

Do you have a defamation situation you’d like to rectify? We can help. Our firm has an excellent track record of solving all manners of defamation problems. Get in touch today to learn more about your legal options.

Yes, I Want to Speak with Someone about an Internet Law Issue »