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A Columbia University-trained biologist sued the city Thursday, saying his good name was permanently soiled by false accusations that he had sexually tortured a college student he had met in an Internet chat room.

Oliver Jovanovic sought $20 million in damages for his loss of liberty, economic losses, psychological damage and irreparable harm to his reputation after city police built a case on the claims of a 22-year-old woman.

Jovanovic, 38, was convicted in 1998 of kidnapping, sexual abuse and assault and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. The Appellate Division reversed his conviction in 1999, saying he had not had a fair trial.

The charges were dismissed in October 2001 after a prosecutor said the woman was not emotionally prepared to go through a second trial.

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