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Judge: Woman entitled to sue over being called ’Monica Lewinsky’

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The Associated Press

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who claims she was sexually harassed when her professor referred to her as “Monica Lewinsky” is entitled to sue, a federal judge ruled.

Inbal Hayut filed suit last May against the State University of New York at New Paltz and professor Alex Young, claiming Young created a “sexually hostile environment” by repeatedly calling her by the name of the former White House intern.

“Young observed that (Hayut) 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,” Northern District Judge David Hurd wrote in his Dec. 18 decision that allowed the suit to continue.

Young’s lawyer, Kenneth J. Kelly, called the charges “ridiculous.”

“This is not sexual harassment,” Kelly said Friday.

In his ruling, Hurd granted defense motions to dismiss parts of the lawsuit, including the allegations of intentional infliction of emotional pain and discrimination based on origin. But he denied a defense motion to dismiss the sexual harassment charges.

Hayut, now 23, said the professor, who taught two of her classes in 1998, ignored her pleas to stop the name-calling and that the school refused to take any action. She said the humiliation eventually affected her grades, and she left the school in the spring.

“She’s a sweet, shy girl and this was very difficult for her,” said her lawyer, William Martin. “Some of the students didn’t know her by any other name but Monica.”

Lewinsky’s spokeswoman, Juli Nadler, said Lewinsky is dismayed, “but that was in 1998, when her name was linked to presidential scandal.” Nowadays, she added, people think of Lewinsky as “handbag designer, e-commerce entrepreneur, Yahoo Internet Life ‘cover girl. … Clearly, she has moved on and taken her good name with her.”

Young, 72, has retired from the school. He could not be reached for comment; his lawyer declined to give out his phone number or say where he lives.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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