Shock jock sues college
March 18, 2005
Host cites free speech rights
by Cindy Chang
Pasadena Star News
EAGLE ROCK -- A former Occidental College talk radio host whose verbal skewering of fellow students prompted school officials to discipline him for sexual harassment has sued his alma mater for $10 million.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Higher Education and the American Civil Liberties Union are among the civil- rights organizations that have rallied behind the former talk show host, Jason Antebi.
"It's about a university that is supposed to be teaching people to be open-minded, to be thinkers, and who themselves are close-minded and completely disrespectful of the student's constitutional rights,' said Antebi's attorney, Richard Sherman.
Antebi, who graduated from the Eagle Rock college last year, hosted a "shock jock' program called "Rant and Rave' on KOXY, the low-wattage campus radio station.
In March 2004, three students filed sexual harassment complaints against him after he called them names, including "Vander Douche' and "Sam the Bearded Feminist,' on the air.
School officials fired Antebi from the radio station and ultimately found him guilty of sexual harassment. They also launched an investigation into whether he had distributed prescription medication to students based on an episode of his show where he appeared to be using Vicodin.
In the lawsuit, filed March 16 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Antebi alleges that school officials violated his constitutional free speech rights by removing him from the radio program, disciplining him and making numerous defamatory statements about him.
Occidental College spokesman Jim Tranquada said he could not comment because school officials have not yet been served with the lawsuit. Tranquada is named as a defendant along with several other administrators, including Dean of Students Frank Ayala, Title IX Officer Maryanne Horowitz and General Counsel Sandra Cooper.
The lawsuit alleges that school officials "painted Plaintiff as a racist, criminal, drug pusher, advocate of violence, unethical student representative, and as a person responsible for an atmosphere of terror on campus in which women were 'unable to concentrate, sleep, or even walk across campus without fear.' '
Antebi's show made fun of just about everyone, "including Mormons, Christians, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Democrats, Republicans, men, women, children, short, tall, fat and skinny,' the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also alleges that college officials dissolved the student government, of which Antebi was vice president, in order to punish Antebi.
"Occidental College is now and has always been a fierce protector of free speech. We categorically reject your assertion that our actions have been either immoral or legally untenable and we do not expect to be embarrassed by our handling of this matter,' General Counsel Cooper wrote in an April 2004 letter to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Through his lawyers, Antebi declined to comment on the lawsuit. In a December 2004 opinion piece published in the Pasadena Star-News, he wrote: "How could my own school so cavalierly accuse me of such serious offenses? I've never been late to class, let alone dealt prescription drugs out of the trunk of my Mazda.'
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