An anonymous student said deceased University of Idaho assistant professor Ernesto A. Bustamante coerced her into having sex with other people and participated in sexual orgies, according to a Dec. 7, 2010, report released Thursday morning. The caller said Bustamante should be investigated and possibly terminated.
The student who called was one of Bustamante's advisees.
This accusation, a part of a series of more than 4,200 files released by the university Thursday, was reported to UI's Ethics and Compliance Employee Hotline.
Bustamante murdered Katy M. Benoit in August and killed himself after resigning from the university.
Katherine G. Aiken, dean of the UI College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, was asked to investigate the allegations, according to an email from Carmen Suarez, director of the director of the Office of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion (OHRAI). Bustamante met with Aiken and she said if he was involved with a student, the relationship should end immediately. The student was given a new adviser.
The same day he met with Aiken, Bustamante called the alleged victim and told her she would be contacted by the dean, according to Suarez's email. Aiken never named the student involved in the
The university again received accusations involving Bustamante when Benoit sent a complaint against him to Suarez on June 13, 2011.
Benoit said Bustamante had sexually harassed her and threatened her at gunpoint on three separate occasions, according to the complaint. Benoit said in interviews with Suarez that they had a sexual relationship beginning in Fall 2010.
In an email between Aiken and Kenneth Locke, chair of the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies, dated July 11, Locke said he was previously concerned about Bustamante's relationships with students but was "taken aback by the magnitude of these allegations."
Bustamante reportedly had a relationship with another student before seeing Benoit, according to an email sent Aug. 25, 2011, by UI assistant professor Benjamin Barton to Locke.
"(Bustamante) and (Name redacted) had a rocky romantic relationship throughout most of the last academic year," Barton wrote. "He spent a lot of time at her apartment. He was dating her before he began seeing Katy."
In his response to Benoit's allegations, Bustamante sent a letter to UI officials saying he was not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with her, maintaining their relationship was only friendly and professional.
"I by no means take these allegations lightly," Bustamante wrote. "And I would like to make a formal complaint against Ms. Benoit for making unfounded complaints that could be detrimental to me regardless of the outcome of this matter."
Bustamante said Benoit had great potential to be successful in the field, but in Spring 2011 her performance declined. He wrote that when he asked Benoit about any circumstances that may have contributed, she said she had substance abuse problems. Bustamante said Benoit stole a bottle of prescription drugs from him and attempted to sell them back to him.
"I realized that Ms. Benoit has had, and continues to have, a history of drug use and distribution," Bustamante wrote. "I am by no means an expert in addictions, but it became clear to me that Ms. Benoit was addicted to controlled substances, especially marijuana."
In interviews with Suarez, Benoit admitted to stealing the drugs, according to emails sent by Suarez. She said the incident made Bustamante angry and he threatened her at gunpoint.
While Bustamante generally received positive student reviews, Benoit said Bustamante created an inappropriate and sexualized environment in the lab in her interview with Suarez.
In her complaint, Benoit listed names of other students present in the lab when such comments were made. Suarez deleted the names when she sent the complaint to Bustamante. In an email to Aiken, she said she did not want him tampering with the process ahead of time as he had done in a previous incident.
A number of other students also reported that his behavior was disturbing.
"He talked about shooting students, which was disturbing, and implied that he was (and we should be) drunk and high every other day," one student said in a review.
Another said he was unprofessional and flirted with his students.
Multiple emails sent to Bustamante from students also included teasing and explicitly sexual comments.
Micki Panttaja, the market manager for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), said she realized Bustamante was "a split" when she worked with him, and she regretted not saying anything.
"He was really intense and dark," she said in an email to Aiken. "Then when he showed up at web author training, he was literally a different person and insisted on being called Ernie."
According to Benoit's complaint against Bustamante, he claimed to have five different personalities, including "Ernesto," "E.," "Ernie," "The Beast" and "The Baby."
Benoit officially filed her complaint against Bustamante with Suarez on June 13, 2011. Suarez repeatedly encouraged her to seek legal counsel and assistance from Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse.
"Again, let me reiterate, should you feel at any time in danger, please call the police," Suarez said to Benoit in an email. "Since you allege threats of violence against you by him, I would strongly recommend that you have your safety plan in place, and that you perhaps sleep elsewhere for the week."
Benoit said in an email to Suarez that her family was unable to assist her in any capacity.