The University of Idaho and the family of a graduate student who was gunned down by a professor she had dated have reached a settlement, according to a joint statement issued late Thursday.
The family of Katy Benoit will receive $375,000 and plans to donate all proceeds of the settlement to charitable causes, primarily through a memorial fund established after the 22-year-old’s death in August. A statement issued by school President Duane Nellis and Benoit’s family detailed changes that would be made at the university as part of the settlement, including improved communication with police.
Benoit had complained to the university last June about 31-year-old assistant psychology professor Ernesto Bustamante, saying she broke off their relationship after he pointed a loaded gun at her head on three separate occasions, threatening her life.
Bustamante disclosed that he took medication for bipolar disorder shortly after he was hired in 2007.
After Benoit filed her complaint, school officials have said they urged her to take safety precautions and contacted police immediately, while also complying with the student’s wishes. UI has said Benoit did not want officials to discuss her allegations with police.
Bustamante resigned August 19, three days before police say he went to Benoit’s off-campus home in Moscow and shot her 11 times. Bustamante then checked into a hotel before turning a gun on himself.
After the deaths, Benoit’s family was among those questioning whether the university could have done more to prevent the tragedy, and filed a $3 million tort claim against UI.
In their joint statement, Nellis and Benoit’s family said further actions being taken in the wake of the tragedy include improved sexual harassment training for students, staff and faculty; improved relations, communication and procedural operations between the university and the Moscow Police Department; and a better procedure for students and faculty to safely, securely and, if necessary, anonymously report any harmful and inappropriate activity occurring within the campus community. (AP)