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Gay student ordered to pay $77,000 to former school

Gay student ordered to pay $77,000 to former school

A former seminary student who lost his scholarship because he is gay has been ordered to pay $77,000 for sending more than 1,000 lewd e-mails to Baylor University officials and their families. After awarding $47,000 in damages and $30,000 in attorneys' fees to Baylor, the judge ordered James Matthew Bass to stop sending e-mails to officials at the world's largest Baptist university. The judgment Friday puts an end to the case, which began in August when employees started complaining about receiving e-mails with pornographic photos and obscene subject matter. Baylor sued in November in trying to track down and stop the person sending the e-mails. Bass, now a theology student at Emory University in Atlanta, never filed court papers responding to Baylor's lawsuit or denying that he sent the lewd messages to more than 50 people. Many e-mails were made to appear as if they came from other Baylor officials or their relatives. Bass, 25, attended Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary until late 2003, when administrators revoked his scholarship after learning that he is gay. He later dropped out, saying he could not afford the tuition. Baylor could have "pursued exemplary damages against Mr. punish him" but decided not to in order to resolve the case quickly, said Andy McSwain, an attorney for the school. "Whether or not Baylor will ever collect any of the judgment, I don't know," McSwain said. "If we can, we will. But in the end, one of the more important things is to make him stop. He has done that." Bass, who did not attend Friday's hearing, did not return phone messages. The damages awarded were to compensate Baylor for the time and trouble of tracking down the sender. Baylor officials have said the e-mails were traced to the modem of an Internet service subscriber with Bass's home address, identified as his roommate. They also said that Bass, using his own name, used a variety of computer services on Baylor computers, with the calls originating from the modem at Bass's residence. (AP)

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