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The University defeated an appeal of a 1989 sexual discrimination case filed against it by default last week when the plaintiff did not show up for trial. "I went there with my witnesses," Associate General Counsel Neil Hamburg said yesterday. "I think what happened was she Federal Expressed a letter to the judge, but I have not seen the letter." In the suit, former Van Pelt College House administrative fellow Ann McHugh claimed she was constantly harassed by a student and Van Pelt officials did not attempt to stop the abuse, despite her protests. Just days after taking her complaints to the University Ombudsman, she was fired, she contends. The University argued in a formal reply that she was fired because she was unable to "perform effectively" in her position and that she filed her complaints with the Ombudsman after she was terminated. McHugh argued that she was fired solely because of her complaint. In a confidential University document dated September 23, 1987 that was released into court records, McHugh told the student, Paul Cohen, that his actions violated the University's harassment policy. McHugh told Cohen that he is not permitted to ask about her personal life, touch her or "patronize" her and stop "demeaning" other residents of the house. "All references to Van Pelt as the three (four) F club -- freaks, fags, foreigners, (freshmen) -- will cease immediately," she told him. "This is offensive and abusive . . . " Cohen, who was not listed in the student directory for that year, could not be located for comment. McHugh was suing the University for reinstatement to her position as an administrative fellow and for reimbursement for her salary from 1987 to present, plus interest. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided in 1989 that McHugh's dismissal was not based on sexual discrimination. McHugh decided to appeal this decision through the courts. Hamburg said yesterday that McHugh's case was "frivolous." A counterclaim filed by the University alleged that McHugh's complaint in Municipal Court and complaints before the EEOC breached the settlement agreement the University made with her. This counterclaim was dismissed last week along with the rest of the case. McHugh has changed lawyers several times in appealing her case. Past attorney Elizabeth Warner declined to comment on the ruling, saying she had never taken the case. Another previous attorney, Alan Epstein, also declined to comment, adding that he was no longer assigned to the case. McHugh did not return several phone messages placed at her home last night.

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