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Benoit settlement includes campus changes

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The University of Idaho and the family of a graduate student who was killed by a professor she had previously dated have reached a settlement. School officials and Katy Benoit's family issued a joint statement Thursday night. Financial terms weren't disclosed, but Benoit's family plans to donate the settlement proceeds to charitable causes. The statement also detailed actions that would be taken to make the campus safer as part of the settlement, including improved communication with police. Benoit complained to the university last June about psychology professor Ernesto Bustamante, saying she ended their relationship after he pointed a gun at her head, threatening her life. Police say Bustamante resigned Aug. 19, days before killing Benoit then himself. Benoit's family filed a $3 million tort claim against the university in December. Click below for the full joint statement.


April 19, 2012

 

University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis and Gary, Janet and Andy Benoit announce a settlement of claims arising from the August 22, 2012 death of Katy Benoit. The settlement is the result of a mediation involving the family, the university, and the State of Idaho’s Office of Risk Management. The mediation was conducted in Boise by retired state district court judge Ronald Schilling. The following statement was issued by President Nellis and the Benoit family on April 19, 2012.

The Benoit Family and the University of Idaho gratefully announce that we have come together to honor Katy Benoit and address the issues surrounding her death by enacting significant, positive changes to the university’s culture and policies. Katy acted with tremendous courage last summer when she stepped forward and filed a formal complaint to the university about her professor. It was – and remains – our intention to fully learn from this tragedy and make whatever changes necessary to help engender a safer campus.

While nothing can undo Katy’s tragic loss of life, we find comfort in taking the first of what will be many steps in following through on our original mission: bringing as much good from this situation as possible.

In addition to the already-enacted new policy prohibiting student-faculty relationships, other changes at the university will include:

**Improved relations, communication and procedural operations between the university and the Moscow Police Department.

**Development of improved communications for procedure that allows all students and faculty to safely, securely and, if necessary, anonymously report any harmful and inappropriate activity occurring within the university community.

**Improved sexual harassment training for students, staff and faculty.

**Creation of a new annual on-campus education event founded in safety, value-based decision-making and rights and responsibilities. This forum will be a continuing tool for education of university students, faculty and staff in the policies and procedures described above.  The university will honor the legacy of Katy and her family by naming the forum for her. 

In addition to enacting changes, the Benoit Family and University of Idaho have reached a monetary settlement that falls within the claim limitations of the Idaho Tort Claims Act (Idaho Code 6-926). The Benoit Family has chosen to donate all settlement proceeds to charitable causes, primarily via the Katy Benoit Memorial Fund, which has been established through the Idaho Community Foundation. 

Katy’s life and the events pertaining to her death have provided an abundance of lessons that the Benoit Family and the University of Idaho are fully committed to learning from and helping others learn from. It is our hope that these lessons can help create a perpetually safer and wiser culture not just at the U of I, but on other campuses throughout the nation.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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