by Paul Bowers
Thursday morning, when the news broke that College of Charleston artist in residence Enrique Graf had resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct, the City Paper fired off a few quick questions via e-mail to Graf's press people on the off chance that he was willing to speak to the media. We sent three questions, and what we got in return was an impassioned letter.
Here are the questions we asked:
1. How do you respond to the accusations of sexual misconduct that have been made by your three former students?
2. Why did you withdraw your appeal and resign on June 1?
3. Your artist website lists several engagements over the next few months, including the Music Fest Perugia beginning today in Perugia, Italy. Do you intend to continue with your previously scheduled events?
Here is the response we received:
Thanks for contacting me about the Post and Courier article which I find extremely biased, incomplete and needlessly salacious. I hope that you will not follow that same vein. Here is my response to your questions.
The allegations are absurd, baseless and untrue. I categorically deny any misconduct and am proud of a long and successful teaching career, 24 years at the College of Charleston plus 36 years at other institutions. I have had hundreds of students, most of whom I consider friends and cherished colleagues. I have never sexually harassed or abused anyone.
The College of Charleston investigation was conducted by an admittedly inexperienced lawyer, who told several witnesses that she did not know what to ask because she had not done this type of investigation before. Considering that the College of Charleston has been criticized in the media for how they conduct investigations of this sort, it is incredible they did not hire a more experienced investigator. While I was being assured that this was an independent investigation, she told me personally that the College's lawyer instructed her not to delve into the accusers’ credibility!! This was astonishing to me and my attorney. Not surprisingly, the report came back full of unsubstantiated rumors and hearsay, much of it dating back almost thirty years. The inadequacies of the investigation were repeatedly and contemporaneously addressed in writing by my counsel, to no avail.
What was supposed to be prompt and confidential lasted three months. While on-going, the College’s attorney took it upon herself to inform my other employers about the allegations, including suggesting that there was some merit to them. I learned, much to my surprise and chagrin, that my bosses were telling my colleagues and students that I was most likely not coming back long before the investigative report was finished. Moreover, I was suspended without pay before a hearing was scheduled to take place, an action explicitly discouraged by AAUP’s procedures.
Initially, the Faculty Hearing Committee, based on a mere technicality, denied me a hearing in full contravention of my constitutional rights. When challenged by my attorney, they then agreed to hold one at the urging of President Benson. This small victory was completely diminished by their later announced rules that would apply to my hearing. Despite my objections and the advocacy of my attorney, the Committee determined to proceed in such a manner that we were convinced that I would not be granted a full and fair opportunity to be heard. For example, the Committee decided that the legally mandated rules of evidence would not apply and that my attorney would not be permitted to examine any witnesses, rendering his representation essentially meaningless. In a last minute attempt to resolve matters, the College did offer a monetary settlement to me, but I could not accept it because of the demeaning restrictions on my future activities, including the ridiculous limitation on my ability to attend my own students’ recitals.
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. Therefore, I opted to resign. I am devastated by the actions of the College. And, I am hurt and disappointed that what was a remarkable and productive time at the College would end without having received any support from my colleagues in the music department, the School of the Arts and the College of Charleston administration.
Of course I will continue with my performance and recording schedule.
Please contact me if anything else is needed from me. I appreciate your consideration of my comments.