WATERBURY, Conn.—A Central Connecticut State University student who was expelled after being accused of plagiarizing another student's term paper has gone to court seeking to clear his name.
Testimony in Matthew Coster's case began Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court. He's suing the other student, Christina Duquette, claiming she copied his term paper on the Holocaust and not the other way around.
Coster was expelled in 2006 after his Western civilization professor and CCSU officials found that he had cheated.
The lawsuit seeks a ruling by Judge Jane Scholl that Coster did not cheat and an unspecified amount of money for legal costs.
Coster, now 21, has continued his education at a community college.
"I have been wrongly accused, and this is going to follow me wherever I go," Coster said Tuesday.
Duquette, now a substitute teacher in Waterbury, denies the allegations.
Mark Grzelak, a computer expert hired by Coster's family to analyze computer files, testified Tuesday that there is proof Coster created his paper a week before Duquette submitted hers.
Attorneys on both sides have focused on e-mails sent by each student to CCSU Western civilization Professor Ronald Moss.
Both e-mails were sent at the request of Moss, who said he had not received either of their term papers by the assigned deadline. The students responded by e-mail and attached their respective papers, which were described Tuesday as nearly identical, except for spelling and grammar errors in Coster's paper.
Grzelak said his analysis of each e-mail determined that the attached document on Coster's was created on May 14, 2006, and that the document attached to Duquette's was created nine days later.
Coster contends that he turned in a paper before Moss' deadline. He testified that he made final edits to his paper on May 15. Coster said he then drove to campus and put the paper in Moss' mailbox before the deadline of 5 p.m. on May 15.
The lawsuit claims that "at some subsequent" time, Duquette removed Coster's paper from the mailbox, copied it, corrected the grammar and spelling and turned it in as her own.
Duquette, who graduated last May, said she also put a term paper in Moss' mailbox before the deadline.
Coster, a New Milford native, attends Naugatuck Valley Community College. After leaving CCSU, he applied to the University of Connecticut but was rejected. He believes the expulsion was the reason.
Information from: The Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com