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Transsexual Harassment Suit OK’d

October 10, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge Thursday refused to dismiss a transsexual’s harassment lawsuit against New York University just because the victim was then a man in the process of becoming a woman.

U.S. District Judge Whitman Knapp allowed Jennifer Miles’ $14 million lawsuit to go forward, saying federal law protects her.

Miles was studying musicology in a graduate studies program and undergoing hormone treatment in advance of sex change surgery when she claims Professor Cliff Eisen began harassing her in 1993.

Eisen fondled her breasts, buttocks and forcibly tried to kiss her and repeatedly requested a sexual relationship, her lawsuit against the school claims.

NYU sought to have the lawsuit dismissed.

``There is no conceivable reason why such conduct should be rewarded with legal pardon just because, unbeknownst to Professor Eisen and everyone else at the university, plaintiff was not a biological female,″ Knapp wrote.

``There can be no doubt that Professor Eisen’s conduct with respect to Jennifer Miles, assuming it can be proven, related to sex and sex alone,″ Knapp said.

The school reprimanded Eisen but let him continue to teach.

The school later assured the professor that the reprimand would have no effect on its decision to award him tenure, the judge said. Knapp called the assurance ``bizarre″ considering four other female students had previously accused the professor of inappropriate sexual advances.

The professor was not awarded tenure and his contract was not renewed.

John Beckman, a spokesman for New York University, said the school does not comment on legal matters.

The plaintiff, a 31-year-old New Jersey resident, was too traumatized by her experience at the university to complete her studies, said her lawyer, Daniel Kaiser.

Kaiser said his client was not suing the professor because the statue of limitations had passed. He said there is a different statute of limitations for the school’s liability.