Family Of Slain Idaho Grad Student Seeks Answers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Family Of Slain Idaho Grad Student Seeks Answers

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The family of a slain University of Idaho graduate student wants to know how the school responded to a complaint she filed this summer against a professor who sometimes referred to himself as "the beast" and, police say, eventually killed her after their romance ended.

But the university so far will not disclose what actions were taken after Katy Benoit, 22, complained earlier this year about Ernesto A. Bustamante, 31, who police say committed suicide in a Moscow hotel room after killing her outside her home late Monday.

Benoit was shot multiple times with a .45-caliber handgun. Her family called on the university for disclosure in statement Wednesday.

"We hope that the University of Idaho will be forthcoming in disclosing everything that went on this past summer in response to Bustamante's behavior toward Katy and others, including the university's involvement," her family said.

The family issued the statement after the release of court documents that offered details of the relationship between Bustamante and Benoit, including violent encounters described by
friends and roommates.

Benoit's roommates told police her romance with Bustamante ended in March and after the breakup, Benoit had said Bustamante pointed a handgun at her on multiple occasions and at one point had put a gun in her mouth, according to a police affidavit.

Benoit's roommates told police she filed a complaint with the university in June and Bustamante was either fired or forced to resign as a result.

The university confirmed Bustamante resigned effective last Friday, but has declined to comment on employment, the existence of a relationship between him and a student, or any actions that were taken with respect to Bustamante and Benoit, citing public records
laws and school policies.

The university instead detailed, at length, procedures that would apply in cases where the school is notified of a relationship between a faculty member and a student and there are allegations of inappropriate behavior by the instructor or a complaint of sexual misconduct.

School officials said the matter would be investigated as sexual harassment by the university's Office of Human Rights and if evidence of a "credible threat" to the student is found, the university says a team of university and non-university professionals are assembled to assess the threat and direct an appropriate response.

The person found at risk is then counseled on how to avoid or minimize the risk, university officials said. "Where appropriate, law enforcement is engaged and persons at risk are also encouraged to make their own contacts with law enforcement," the university said in a statement issued late Wednesday. School officials did not immediately return phone calls
Thursday from The Associated Press.

School officials said there is no court record of Benoit seeking a restraining order, though her family said Wednesday they believed she had. The AP was unable to confirm that a restraining order had been issued against Bustamante in Latah County, where the university is based.

Benoit's family said she had become increasingly alarmed about Bustamante's behavior and had taken steps to get away from the man after their relationship soured. Benoit's roommates told police they had also been concerned for her well-being because Bustamante
had weapons and multiple personalities.

Rowdy J. Hope identified himself as a close friend of Bustamante and confirmed the former professor "had multiple handguns and multiple personality disorders to include one Bustamante calls a `psychopathic killer' and another Bustamante calls `the beast,' "
according to the police affidavit.

The university hired Bustamante in 2007 and he was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Communication. Benoit earned her undergraduate degree from the university in 2010 and had just started her graduate studies in the psychology department.

      
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)
   

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