CALIFORNIA — After three years in the courts, OccidentalCollege and former student radio show host Jason Antebi reached a settlement inAntebi’s case — which alleged that college officials defamed him and that the college violated his free-speech rights by firing him — theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education announced in an Oct. 19 pressrelease. The exact terms of the settlement were not disclosed, butStuart Tochner, outside counsel for Occidental, told the Los Angeles DailyNews that the settlement was for a nominal sum, and that Occidental admittedno wrongdoing.
Occidental referred the Student Press Law Center to Tochner, who did notreturn a call made Friday afternoon requesting comment.
Antebi said he was happy with the outcome.
“I can’t quite comment on any sum that they agreed they paidme,” Antebi said. “But I can tell you that an institution that hasmillions and millions of dollars — I’m sure they thought it wasnominal, but someone who doesn’t have millions and millions of dollars, Ithought it wasn’t nominal.”
The case began when college administrators fired Antebi in 2004 from”Rant and Rave,” his show on the college’s student-run KOXYradio station, after making controversial comments about three members of thestudent government. Antebi said on air that one student was a “beardedfeminist” and another was “half-man, half-vagina.”
Antebi contacted FIRE, which aided Antebi in the case.
Antebi sued in 2005, asking for $10 million and a change in theschool’s policy so a student in a similar situation could not be fired.The lawsuit claimed Occidental had violated California’s Leonard Law,which gives free-speech protections similar to those granted by the FirstAmendment to students at private colleges. Antebi also claimed that Occidentaland its general counsel, Sandra Cooper, had defamed him. The lawsuit claimsCooper allegedly called Antebi a “racist,” “sexist,” “misogynist,” “anti-Semite,” “homophobe,””unethical” and “immoral” trash in a public hallway.
The state trial court dismissed the entire action. Antebi appealed, and theappellate court reinstated his defamation claim, but did not reinstate his claimunder the Leonard Law. In 2005 the California Supreme Court declined toreinstate Antebi’s free-speech claim. His defamation claim was sent backto trial court, but the case was settled before trial.
Today, Antebi still works in radio, and is the host of another show, the”Jason Rant Show,” on a commercial station.
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