Posts tagged: Katy Benoit
University of Idaho officials and the family of a graduate student who was killed by a professor she had dated have agreed to a financial settlement in a claim against the school over the 22-year-old’s death, sources told the Associated Press on Tuesday. A settlement would bring some closure in the wake of shootings that police have described as a murder-suicide, which horrified faculty, students and parents and brought Idaho’s oldest public university under intense scrutiny. The terms of the agreement between Katy Benoit’s family and the school were not immediately available. Benoit died in August after police say she was shot 11 times by Ernesto Bustamante, an assistant psychology professor with whom she had recently broken off a romantic relationship. Police say Bustamante, after shooting Benoit, checked in at a Moscow hotel and killed himself. He had resigned from his position at the university only days earlier/Jessie Bonner, AP. More here.
Images from the memorial service for Katy Benoit Aug. 30, 2011, at Boise High School. (Idaho Statesman/AP photo: Chris Butler)
By filing the claim, Katy Benoit’s family has taken the first step toward suing the University of Idaho over its hiring, supervision and retention of their daughter’s former professor, lover and killer, Ernesto Bustamante. The tort claim puts the university on notice of damages the family could seek in court. The claim was filed Dec. 8; the university did not file a response within 90 days, which ended earlier this week. That means the Benoits are free to file a lawsuit against the university, which they had not done as of Friday afternoon. U of I officials declined comment Friday. A lawyer for the Benoit family did not respond to a request for comment and details about the allegations in the claim. Moscow police say 31-year-old Bustamante shot and killed Benoit, 22, at her off-campus home Aug. 22 — the first day of fall classes — and then killed himself the next morning/Patrick Orr. Idaho Statesman. More here.
Ernesto A. Bustamante was a successful young psychology professor, known simply as “E” to a close following of graduate students at the University of Idaho who marveled at his intellect and valued his advice about their careers as well as their personal lives. Kathryn Benoit was one of many students who gravitated toward Mr. Bustamante. She enrolled in one of his classes last fall, and by the end of the semester she had not only joined his research laboratory and made him her graduate adviser, but had also begun sleeping with him. Their tumultuous relationship, however, soon began to fray. Ms. Benoit, who was 22, filed a complaint with the university in the summer, accusing Mr. Bustamante of sexual harassment and of threatening her life with a loaded gun. By the beginning of this semester, both the graduate student and the assistant professor were dead/Robin Wilson, of Moscow, The Chronicle of Higher Education. More here. (AP file photo: Andy Benoit speaks at his sister Katy Benoit's memorial service at Boise High School Aug. 30)
DFO: Writer Robin Wilson provides an in-depth look into the murder-suicide involving a University of Idaho instructor and graduate student Katy Benoit.
The murder of a University of Idaho graduate student quickly spurred security reviews at other local and regional campuses this fall, but little change has been instituted. To date, only Boise State University has signaled a policy shift, emphasizing security and safety over the privacy of its employees and students. “(The) tragic set of events at the University of Idaho provides many lessons for us and we are carefully reviewing our policies, procedures and communication methods to ensure our system is as effective as it can be,” a BSU official said in an email. “Safety and the proper assessment of concerning behavior are of the utmost importance and in the best interest of security for all”/Joel Mills, Lewiston Tribune. More here. (AP file photo of murder victim Katy Benoit)
Question: What are Idaho colleges & universities waiting for?
In his blog today, editorialist Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman focuses on UIdaho's failure to report to Moscow police that associate professor Ernesto Bustamante had pointed a gun three times at eventual victim Katy Benoit: “Would this have made any difference? Would this have prevented this abusive relationship from ending in murder-suicide? That is unknown. And unknowable. This much is evident: U of I officials did a disservice to police, and to Benoit, by withholding evidence of a series of violent crimes”/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Now that you've had time to digest the murder-suicide involving associate professor Ernesto Bustamante and victim Katy Benoit, do you think this tragedy could have been prevented?
The New Jersey company that offered Ernesto Bustamante a job as he was being investigated by the University of Idaho for sexual harassment never called the university for references, a company spokeswoman said today. “The references he provided were not from the University of Idaho,” said April Perrone, human resources manager at Hi-Tec Systems, an aviation industry engineering and research company based in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. The assistant professor of psychology agreed to resign his position with the university effective Aug. 19, three days before gunning down graduate student Katy Benoit, with whom he had an intimate relationship. Soon after killing her, he committed suicide in a nearby hotel room/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.
Question: How did this guy slip through all the cracks?
The University of Idaho is strengthening its ban on faculty-student relationships after the slaying of a 22-year-old graduate student by her professor, who then killed himself. University President M. Duane Nellis announced the changes Wednesday in Moscow, Idaho, as the university released employment and other records of the professor, Ernesto Bustamante (pictured). Judge John Stegner ordered disclosure of the public records, which were sought by several news organizations, including The Spokesman-Review. The records, more than 4,200 files including personal Bustamante emails, were expected to be delivered to the media today/Kevin Graman, SR. More here.
Question: Did you ever — or anyone you knew — date a teacher in college? How did that turn out?
In response to questions from reporters, UI President Duane Nellis said former professor Ernesto Bustamante was allowed to resign rather than fired because it was “the fastest way to make that happen.” He said, “We were interested in expediting this, and that was the fastest way to get that done.” Asked if UI personnel gave recommendations to Bustamante, who reportedly had other employment lined up, Nellis said, “Not to our knowledge.” He said, “I think we acted aggressively and appropriately.” Nellis said, “We did immediately contact the Moscow Police Department.” But asked why the university didn't immediately inform the Moscow Police that the professor had assaulted graduate student Katy Benoit with a handgun and threatened her life, UI general counsel Kent Nelson said, “That was information that Katy had and did not want us to disclose it to police. … We respected Katy's wishes”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: What do you hope to learn from the release of the associate professor Ernesto Bustamante's personnel records?
More than two months before her death, Kathryn “Katy” Benoit told an official at the University of Idaho that she was frightened by her professor, who carried weapons “everywhere, including to campus,” and that she also worried about the safety of fellow students. Benoit, 22, was killed on Aug. 22 by Ernesto Bustamante, with whom she had an intimate relationship. The assistant professor then killed himself in a Moscow hotel room. Previously unreported details of Benoit’s June 12 complaint to the university were revealed in the graduate student’s letter to Carmen Suarez, of the Office of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion. A friend of Benoit’s who proofread the letter provided a copy of the document; another friend verified that it is the letter submitted to the university/Kevin Graman, SR. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: As new details come out re: murder of UI grad student Katy Benoit, has your thoughts about the University of Idaho's reaction changed?
From the time Benoit contacted the UI on June 10 with her concerns, the university appeared fully engaged. It investigated. It contacted police. It prodded Benoit to take precautions. It severed ties with Bustamante six weeks after Benoit made her complaint - virtually the speed of sound in a government bureaucracy. Moscow police should have been brought in sooner and more aggressively. Focusing the investigation more firmly upon Bustamante - such as bringing him in for an interview and checking his background - might have yielded results. Nonetheless, would an irrational person respond to rational appeals? It suggests cops have more discretion than they otherwise might when no restraining order was sought or issued/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Can society deal with a mentally ill person bent on violence?
University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis responded Friday to demands from the public and the family of slain graduate student Katy Benoit for an explanation about how the university handled her complaint against the professor who killed her Monday. The school’s account said it met with Benoit and counseled her numerous times beginning June 10, including the day she died. University officials referred her to Moscow police for assistance and contacted the police department themselves on June 10. “I am committed to ensuring the continuing safety and welfare of members of the university community,” Nellis told reporters Friday. He said he had commissioned an independent review of university safety policies, the details of which would be released later. “I don’t have any reason to think our policies and procedures are not all they should be,” he said, “but I want to be absolutely certain”/Patrick Orr, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you now feel as though the University of Idaho is on top of this tragic situation?
In an editorial today, Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune lambastes state Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, (pictured) for his insensitive remark that a gun safety class might have prevented the murder-suicide at the University of Idaho that claimed the life of grad student Katy Benoit: “That transcends oafishness. It's beyond ugly. It exceeds insensitivity. Inhumane doesn't begin to describe it. Such talk from anyone is irresponsible. From an elected official charged with writing our laws and embracing our standards of decency, it is nothing short of depraved. Complete editorial here.
Question: Do you think Rep. Hagedorn has learned a lesson in using this tragic matter to push his political agenda?