December 22, 2014

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Oberlin professor files defamation lawsuit against colleague

OBERLIN — An Oberlin College professor who was accused of plotting to kill a colleague has sued another professor for defamation.

The professor, Ali Yedes, filed a lawsuit in Lorain County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday against colleague Samir Amin Abdellatif, suing him for defamation and emotional distress that he said he has faced as a result of the accusations made by Abdellatif.

Among the accusations, Abdellatif accused Yedes of making comments that he would bring his relative from Tunisia into the United States to kill Eunjung An, a professor at the college, according to Yedes’ attorney, Alan Krause. Krause said Yedes never made that statement, and he is fighting for his job as a result.

An has sued Oberlin College for allegedly failing to take steps to deal with harassment from Yedes.

Krause said Abdellatif’s accusations go beyond name-calling. They have damaged Yedes’ reputation, he said.

“You can’t just let that go. It destroyed his career,” he said.

According to the lawsuit, Abdellatif made other erroneous statements about Yedes to faculty, students and employees at Oberlin College, as well as the general public. Among those alleged statements were that Yedes forged or helped forge the academic credentials of another Oberlin professor so that he could attain a position at the school, as well as that Yedes was involved with an inter-religious group so that he could “spy on Jews.”

Abdellatif also accused Yedes of trying to bribe an Oberlin College teaching assistant to marry him, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Yedes has been “exposed to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, shame and/or disgrace, threats on his life and well being that have made him fear for his safety.”

Yedes is asking for compensatory damages in excess of $25,000 for “loss of opportunity, humiliation, embarrassment, damage to reputation, loss of self-esteem, physical damages and emotional and psychological distress.”

The situation between Yedes and Abdellatif has prompted the Cleveland chapter of the Council on America-Islamic Relations to request a thorough investigation by Oberlin College.

The organization wrote a letter to the college last month, accusing Abdellatif of writing an anti-Islamic tract. CAIR-Cleveland said Abdellatif cannot be trusted as a result of his alleged hatred toward Muslims.

Oberlin College has declined to comment on the allegations, but said college officials are reviewing the allegations in the CAIR letter before deciding on how to respond.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.