Would-Be Doctor Sues Princeton
Apr. 16, 1998
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A would-be doctor who claimed that he is black and that lepers subsidized his education is suing Princeton for revealing discrepancies in his record to medical schools. He admits he lied but argues Princeton violated his privacy.
Rommel Nobay graduated from Princeton in 1989. He was accepted to Vanderbilt University's medical school in 1991, and to Georgetown, Tufts and Dartmouth in 1994.
But he claims the schools withdrew their offers or pressured Nobay to withdraw his applications after being notified of discrepancies by his Princeton adviser, Jane Y. Sharaf.
Nobay admitted in federal court this week that he had lied about academic achievements and other elements of his life. For example, he was not a National Merit Scholar and a family of lepers didn't donate half their beggings to support his dream.
Nobay sued Princeton in 1995, claiming defamation, invasion of privacy and breach of contract.
``The case isn't about Rommel's credibility. It's about whether Princeton respects or even understands the right to privacy,'' his lawyer, Norm Pattis, said Wednesday during a break in trial of the lawsuit. He said his client had lied and told half-truths out of ``insecurity'' and ``fear.''
Princeton argues it is protected by qualified privilege, which is typically sought in cases in which it is necessary to provide true information to third parties or the public. If granted, defendants are liable only if malice can be proven.
Nobay, 30, claims Princeton had an implicit contract with students to provide ``accurate, but positive recommendations.''
Dean Nancy Malkiel testified that Princeton was obligated to alert the medical schools about Nobay's problems with being truthful.
``I think the schools continue to count on that fact ... that they're getting the straight scoop from medical advisers,'' she said.
Nobay was born in New York but lived in Kenya until he was 5, when his father took a banking job in the United States. His parents are Kenyans, whose ancestors were from the Portuguese colony of Goa, now part of India. He says his heritage is a mix of Portuguese, Arabic and black African. He was raised in Los Angeles.
During a deposition last year, Nobay was asked about his race by a Princeton lawyer.
``Whether I have Negroid blood in me is basically what you're asking, and the answer is I don't know,'' Nobay said. ``I believe I do.''