미국 연방항소법원이 ‘신정아 가짜 학위’ 파문과 관련해 예 일대를 상대로 동국대가 낸 손해배상청구소송 항소를 15일(현지시간) 기각했다.
이번 2심 재판부인 맨해튼 항소법원은 동국대가 1심에서 기각당한 뒤인 작년 7 월 항소한 데 대해 이같이 판단했다.
재판부는 “동국대는 예일대 측에 악의가 있었다는 것을 입증하는 데 실패했고, 예일대 행정직원들이 박사학위 취득 서류가 잘못됐다는 사실을 인지하고 있었다는 증거도 없다”고 기각 사유를 밝혔다.
앞서 1심을 맡은 코네티컷주 연방법원은 지난해 6월 “악의가 있다고 볼만한 증 거가 적다”는 이유로 동국대가 제기한 명예훼손과 부주의 혐의를 수용하지 않고 소 송을 기각했다.
동국대는 지난 2008년 예일대가 박사학위 취득 사실을 확인해준 것을 믿고 신씨 를 미술사 교수로 임용했다가 신씨의 학위 위조 사건으로 명성이 훼손되어 수천만 달러 상당의 피해를 봤다며 소송을 제기했다.
동국대는 예일대가 신씨의 박사 학위를 제대로 확인해주지 않은 탓에 학교의 명 예가 실추돼 졸업생 기부금과 정부 지원금이 줄어드는 등 5천만 달러에 달하는 손해 를 입었다고 주장했다.
<관련 영문 기사>
NY court rejects S. Korean vs. Yale lawsuit
A South Korean university‘s lawsuit claiming Yale University damaged its reputation and cost it tens of millions of dollars by wrongly confirming that an art history professor it hired had earned a doctorate at the Ivy League school was rejected Thursday by a federal appeals court.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with a lower court judge in Connecticut who had dismissed the 2008 lawsuit last year by the Buddhist-affiliated Dongguk University, a school that has produced Nobel Prize-winning authors and poets. A three-judge panel of the appeals court concluded that Dongguk had failed to show there was actual malice on the part of Yale because there was no evidence that school administrators were aware that statements Yale had made were inaccurate.
The prominent South Korean school’s lawsuit had asserted claims for defamation, negligence and reckless conduct, saying it was ``publicly humiliated and deeply shamed in the eyes of the Korean publication.‘’ The school claimed it lost more than $50 million in government grants, alumni donations and other damages.
It cited Yale‘s response to its request to confirm the degree for Shin Jeong- ah. Shin had applied for a position at Dongguk in August 2005 and submitted a document to Dongguk on Yale University letterhead purportedly certifying a doctorate degree in art history. Dongguk hired her on Sept. 1, 2005. Days later, it sent a letter to the New Haven, Conn., school to verify the degree and received a faxed letter from an administrator confirming the certification’s authenticity.
The controversy erupted two years later when Dongguk discovered that Shin may have plagiarized her dissertation and emailed an inquiry to a Yale librarian, who said Yale had no record of Shin‘s dissertation, the appeals court said. Other administrators confirmed she had never obtained the degree, and Shin resigned from Dongguk in June 2007.
The controversy worsened after media reports arose that said Shin had had an affair with former presidential aide Byeon Yang-kyoon. He was accused of using his influence to get Shin hired by Dongguk and to cover up the fraud. He was forced to step down as an aide to then-President Roh Moo-hyun because of the scandal.
The lawsuit sought to hold Yale accountable for having confirmed the existence of the doctorate degree, only to later claim through administrators that the confirmation was bogus and had never occurred. In late 2007, Yale acknowledged it had confirmed existence of the degree but said its staff had done so after mistakenly relying on the letterhead and signature on the certification letter and failing to recognize it was fabricated.
Messages for comment from both sides were not immediately returned. (AP)