A College of Charleston student has filed a lawsuit against the school, some of its leaders and the internationally acclaimed pianist and former music professor who resigned from the school last year amid allegations of coerced sex with students.
The complaint was filed in Charleston County court April 1 against Enrique Graf; the College of Charleston; the college's president, George Benson; and Steve Rosenberg, the former dean of the music department.
The student, who was not identified in the complaint, remains enrolled at the college as a graduate student. He first made the allegations last year, which launched an investigation by the college and led to the school's recommendation to dismiss Graf.
College spokesman Mike Robertson said they can't make any comments on a pending lawsuit.
Graf has vehemently denied the allegations against him and last year told The Post and Courier he resigned because the college was not conducting a fair and adequate investigation.
Graf and his attorney, Allan Holmes, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Holmes has said Graf never got a fair process and cited credibility concerns about the accusers, including potential financial motives, mental instability and alleged drug use.
The school's Department of Public Safety and the State Law Enforcement Division decided not to file criminal charges against Graf.
Graf left the College of Charleston in July but has continued his music career, which spans four decades. Graf was recently on tour with a violinist in Brazil and Uruguay, according to his Facebook page.
In the recently filed suit, the student, who came forward early last year, alleges the college and some of its leaders failed to take action after receiving previous complaints of alleged inappropriate conduct involving Graf. It also alleges the school violated both federal and state laws requiring action or reporting of the allegations.
"Why they weren't adhering to these mandated provisions are beyond me," said Edward Pritchard, the student's attorney. "They've got to be vigilant to prevent this kind of conduct from going on."
Last year the student alleged sexual abuse, misconduct and harassment by Graf, and he said it had begun four years earlier, an incident report stated.
The school's investigation led to the discovery of two other previous allegations against Graf, according to documents from the administrative case file obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request last year.
A former piano student in Maryland accused Graf of sexually abusing him in the 1980s, beginning when he was 16, college 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.
The recent suit alleges the school failed to take any steps to protect students after learning about that allegation.
School officials also discovered a former College of Charleston freshman alleged Graf sexually abused him while he was his student in 1994.
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.
"If alarm bells didn't go off in 1994, they should have gone off in 2006," Pritchard said. "Certainly, at best, their record-keeping was sloppy and their investigation was subpar and at worse, they were, in fact, turning a blind eye."
The recent suit alleges the student in 1994 dropped his complaint as part of a settlement agreement with Graf and the college, according to the complaint.
The $25,000 settlement prohibited the student from discussing the suit and called for the student to withdraw his complaint, according to a settlement letter. As part of the agreement, the college would not take any action against Graf or the student, the letter stated. Any breach of the confidentiality agreement would be a violation of the college's Honor Code, according to the agreement.
"That's unheard of," Pritchard said.
College of Charleston officials previously said they followed the approach detailed in its policies when confronted by allegations against Graf.
Last year the college launched a policy review and enacted changes to its music department.
Despite the recent actions, Pritchard said the student is angry the college allowed the alleged behavior to go on.
"That's what led to this lawsuit," Pritchard said. "Hopefully the college will get its act together and not allow this to go on anymore."
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.