Former Professor in Noose Case Seeks $200M in Lawsuit

Edmund DeMarche, CNN, April 23, 2009

A professor who gained national attention when a noose was found on her office door and was later fired for alleged plagiarism has filed a defamation lawsuit against her former school.

Madonna Constantine, formerly of the Teachers College of Columbia University, is seeking $200 million in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court.

Constantine contends her scholarly reputation was ruined when the school in February 2008 released the results of what it said was an 18-month investigation into the plagiarism allegations. The school at the time said it found “numerous instances in which she used others’ work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.”

She was immediately suspended and later fired in June 2008.

“This was a scheme cooked up between the head of the department and former faculty,” said Paul J. Giacomo Jr., the lawyer representing Constantine. “We had evidence of her original writing that dates back to the 1990s, but it was altered or dismissed.”

A spokeswoman for the Teachers College said, “This case is totally without merit and (the college) intends to defend against it vigorously.”

Giacomo said the “baseless” charges of plagiarism, coming on the heels of the October 2007 noose incident, made some members of the media question that incident.

The plagiarism investigation was under way when the noose was found, and Constantine has charged that the two were connected. During the controversy she sent an e-mail addressed to students that read, “As one of only two tenured black women full professors at Teachers College, it pains me to conclude that I have been specifically and systematically targeted.”

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[Editor’s Note: Other stories about Madonna Constantine are listed here.]


Three professors and a former professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College received hate mail this week, the New York Police Department said. It’s the campus that was shaken by several bias crimes directed at black and Jewish professors in 2007.

Three professors received manila envelopes Tuesday with images of swastikas in them.

The fourth, a former professor who is an African-American, was sent a manila envelope containing an image of a noose, according to NYPD deputy commissioner Paul Browne.

Among those receiving a swastika image was Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish psychologist who has studied psychological principles in the context of the Holocaust, police said.

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The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit is leading the investigation into the incident. No arrests have been made.

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No arrests were made in the 2007 incidents. Police declined to say if they believe there is a connection between those cases and the mailings this week.

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