College of Charleston professor accused by student of sexual abuse and misconduct will not be criminally charged
Criminal charges will not be filed against the former College of Charleston professor accused by a student of sexual misconduct and abuse, according to a final report from the school’s Department of Public Safety released on Friday.
The campus police department began investigating allegations in March that internationally acclaimed pianist and tenured professor Enrique Graf had an alleged “inappropriate” relationship with an unidentified male student, according to the incident report.
The student, who was 18 at the time of the report and remains enrolled at the school, alleged sexual abuse, misconduct and harassment and said the alleged actions had begun four years earlier, the report stated.
On Friday, Graf was cleared of criminal wrongdoing after state and campus law enforcement and prosecutors decided against filing charges.
Graf’s attorney, Allan Holmes released a statement on Graf’s behalf that read, in part:
“A review of the report shows the complete absurdity of the allegations. In particular, we call your attention to the interviews of the many students who refuted those charges. These include the former romantic interest of the unidentified student accuser. She describes the man as a heavy abuser of drugs who was hallucinating. ... In other words, there is absolutely no substantiation of these charges, brought against a man with an impeccable record of professional excellence as an artist and teacher.”
A State Law Enforcement Division agent had been assisting the public safety department in their investigation. After presenting interviews and affidavits with students who both corroborated and contested the allegations against Graf, the college presented their findings to the 9th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. Prosecutors advised the school’s investigators that they would not file charges. According to the report, Assistant Solicitor Timothy Finch told campus police they had done everything possible in the investigation “but the facts did not rise to the level of Criminal Sexual Conduct because there is no evidence of coercion,” the report stated.
Prosecutors told investigators in regards to the sexual criminal element, when the student told Graf to stop, “the professor did stop,” the report stated. Prosecutors also said there is not enough probable cause to make an arrest, according to the report.
Public safety investigators attempted to interview Graf, who referred them to his attorney, Holmes, the report stated. Holmes told investigators Graf has provided “‘a version of events’ and would not be speaking with” police, according to the report.
“Barring interviewing/interrogating Enrique Graf and getting an admission or confession, there is no additional action I can take to further the progress of this case,” the investigator stated in the report.
The lack of charges comes on the heels of the administration’s recommendations to dismiss Graf from the college earlier this year after their own investigation into the allegations.
While in the process of appealing his dismissal, Graf submitted his resignation in June. Graf, 60, who denies all of the accusations, told The Post and Courier through email in July that he resigned because the college was not conducting a fair and adequate investigation.
“The allegations that unfortunately are being written about me are absurd, baseless and untrue,” he stated.
College of Charleston Chief of Staff Brian McGee said a criminal investigation follows different guidelines than the administrative one does and the burden of proof is higher under the criminal code. But he added that the lack of criminal charges does not undermine the school’s internal investigation that led to the recommendation to fire Graf.
“We had two different processes,” he said. “It doesn’t mean one was wrong and the other was right.”
McGee said that their investigation also covered the allegations of drug and alcohol use between Graf and his students.
In January 2013, a student reported to a college administrator that his roommate had told him he felt coerced into sexual behavior with Graf, according to the incident report. Administrators reached out to the student and he was interviewed by campus police in March.
College documents from the administrative case file obtained by The Post and Courier through a Freedom of Information Act request detailed two other previous cases alleging inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harassment of his male students.
A former College of Charleston freshman alleged that Graf sexually abused him while he was his student in 1994. The student 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.
While investigating the most recent complaint, administrators also discovered an allegation made by a former piano student in Maryland who accused Graf of sexually abusing him in the 1980s, beginning when he was 16, the documents show.
Previous administrators at The College of Charleston had learned of that complaint in 2006 but did not conduct a formal investigation at the time, school officials said. It is unclear why that wasn’t done because insufficient records and fading memories, school officials have said.
In July, McGee stated they’ve launched an internal review of their policies and procedures in reporting alleged sexual misconduct and harassment. That review remains ongoing, McGee said.
Graf, who also taught at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was reportedly suspended from the school when the 2012 allegation was made, according to the police report.
In July, Carnegie Melon responded to a request for comment by email stating that Graf has no affiliation with the school. ”We do not discuss personnel matters, other than to confirm employment status,” stated Kenneth Walters, a university spokesman. Walters also refused to comment on whether the university is conducting any investigations into Graf.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.