Tenured College of Charleston professor resigns amid allegations of sexual misconduct with students
An internationally acclaimed pianist and tenured College of Charleston professor has resigned from the school amid an investigation of allegations that he had coercive sexual relations with students and exposed them to drugs and alcohol.
1994: C of C receives a report of sexual harassment against Prof. Enrique Graf by a student who also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. College finds allegation is credible and recommends suspending Graf. However, the student withdraws complaint and matter is closed.
Nov. 14, 2006: C of C receives an email from the wife of one of Graf’s former piano students in Maryland. She alleged Graf sexually abused her husband, who was then a teenager. The college has no record for what happened, if anything, as a result of that email.
January 2013: C of C student files a complaint alleging sexual misconduct by Graf.
Jan. 11, 2013: C of C provost sends letter to Graf informing him an investigation has been launched.
March 18, 2013: C of C files incident report with the university’s Department of Public Safety. Criminal investigation begins with assistance of State Law Enforcement Division.
March 27, 2013: Provost proposes Graf’s dismissal from the college.
April 23, 2013: Graf files an appeal to the dismissal.
June 1, 2013: Graf withdraws appeal and resigns.
Enrique Graf’s musical career spans more than four decades. He was an artist in residence who taught piano at the college and served on the board of directors at the Charleston Academy of Music. He also taught at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Graf, 60, has been a featured soloist in orchestras around the world and founded the Young Artist Series in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
In an email Wednesday to The Post and Courier, Graf said, “The allegations that unfortunately are being written about me are absurd, baseless and untrue.”
Graf resigned June 1 and said he felt the college was conducting an inadequate investigation and that he was not getting a fair chance at defending himself.
College documents obtained by The Post and Courier through a Freedom of Information Act request detail three cases alleging inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harassment of his male students:
A recent College of Charleston student who alleges drug use with Graf and sexual misconduct between 2008 and 2012.
A former piano student in Maryland who alleges Graf sexually abused him in the 1980s, beginning when he was 16.
A former College of Charleston freshman who alleged Graf sexually abused him while he was his student in 1994.
Graf is alleged to have used his authority to intimidate students and threaten their potential careers or scholarships if they didn’t engage in the alleged sexual behavior.
A March 27 letter written to Graf by College of Charleston Provost George Hynd, at the conclusion of the school’s investigation, stated, “These separate reports, alleging behavior from 1983 to 2012, show a pattern of sexual behaviors with your students that is in violation of law and College policy.”
A criminal investigation is underway by the College of Charleston’s Public Safety Department, which is being assisted by the State Law Enforcement Division. Graf has not been criminally charged and police provided no further details.
Notifying the public
As a result of its investigation, the College of Charleston is performing a comprehensive policy review. The university also has enacted policy changes to its music department of about 100 students, including a requirement that one-on-one sessions between teachers and students be in rooms with an open door or a window that cannot be covered.
Notifying the public
The college also put a policy in place that would not give a sole faculty member control over scholarship statuses. A committee carries that responsibility.
“There’s nothing more horrifying to me or to the provost ... than the idea of a faculty member abusing his or her authority in the classroom,” Chief of Staff Brian McGee said.
The matter also has prompted a letter from College of Charleston President George Benson to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson asking for help in determining how to alert the public to the potential dangers of a former faculty member who was accused of sexual misconduct or harassment, but had resigned before a final ruling. The state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing the matter.
The university also discovered its own failure to have adequately documented a 2006 emailed allegation that Graf had previously sexually abused a minor in another state.
“The problem we have is that we don’t have a lot of documentation at that time. We know the email was received. We know it was reported to the administration that existed then,” McGee said. “How Mr. Graf was asked about it, how it was processed, we’re just not clear on that.”
Details of the three allegations, including the two College of Charleston students, came to light on Dec. 20, when the roommate of a student told his or her faculty adviser about the allegations. The student ended up filing an official complaint with the university in January.
That student alleges several instances of sexual harassment by Graf, including what’s described as unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, unwanted physical contact, verbal sexual harassment and sexual conduct, according to the investigation’s findings.
During the student’s freshman year, the alleged inappropriate behavior began with Graf rubbing his back, the student stated in a January affidavit taken by the college. He alleges that Graf asked him about the size of his penis.
In another alleged incident, the student reported to college officials that Graf invited him to his home where, together, they smoked marijuana and drank alcohol. During that incident, the student alleges that Graf massaged him and rubbed his genitals in the student’s face.
“I felt violated, disgusted, and betrayed,” he stated in the affidavit. The student also alleges that Graf pressured him into oral sex.
The student alleges that Graf offered him incentives, including an assistantship, a CD recording and a recital in a large concert hall. “My only regret is not reporting him as soon as the first incident happened,” he stated in the affidavit.
The student also filed a complaint with the college’s Department of Public Safety.
When school officials broadened the scope of their investigation into Graf, they discovered the allegation made in 2006 by the wife of a former Maryland piano student of Graf. In her email to the college, the woman alleges that her then husband was abused by Graf starting at age 16. In an affidavit taken later from the woman’s former husband, he alleges the abuse continued for years.
Another allegation was made by a College of Charleston student in 1994. That student filed complaints with the school and with the U.S. Department of Education. He alleged that Graf showed him pornographic videos, masturbated in front of him, and threatened his scholarship, according to the complaint.
The college conducted an investigation in which the dean of Undergraduate Studies found that Graf violated sexual harassment policies by creating a hostile atmosphere of threats, intimidation and sexual activity.
However, the student withdrew his complaints and the matter was dropped.
The student received $10,000 from the college’s insurance reserve fund, which was expressly used to pay legal fees, according to McGee. Graf’s attorney, Allan Holmes, said Graf “never paid a red cent himself” to the student.
In his email to The Post and Courier, Graf denied any misconduct. Graf and his attorney contend that the college’s investigation was sloppy, incomplete and failed to evaluate credibility issues with the accusers.
In an affidavit taken by the college, Graf said the student who made the most recent allegation could have had financial motives.
Graf’s attorney, Holmes, also questions the “mental instability” of one of the students, according to a letter to Hynd, the provost.
The college found the accusers to be credible and proposed Graf’s dismissal in March.
Graf was barred from campus and from meeting with students during the course of the investigation.
Graf filed an appeal of his proposed dismissal with the university, but withdrew it before the grievance hearing took place and resigned.
“We didn’t think we were going to get a fair shake,” Holmes said.
Graf stated by email, “Rather than subject myself to such a clearly biased proceeding and considering the level of acrimony between the administration and me, it was impractical and unappealing to consider continuing my career at the College of Charleston.”
Graf also resigned from the Charleston Academy of Music’s board of directors, according to the academy’s founder and executive director, Eunjoo Yun. The academy works with children age 4 and up.
No allegations have been made against Graf by students of the academy, Yun said. A letter is being sent to parents and faculty, according to Yun.
Carnegie Mellon refused to answer specific questions about Graf’s involvement with its institution and whether any allegations have been made by students there against Graf.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesman for the school sent this statement:
“Enrique Graf has no current affiliation with Carnegie Mellon University. We do not discuss personnel matters, other than to confirm employment status.”
Graf is believed to be out of the country on a performance schedule.
Doug Pardue contributed to this report. Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.