by Paul Bowers
Former College of Charleston piano professor Enrique Graf has filed a countersuit against a former student who is suing him, claiming psychological damage due to alleged sexual abuse. In the countersuit, Graf claims that the former student was on drugs and psychologically troubled at the time of the alleged misconduct.
"The within lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by the Plaintiff to get money from the Defendants for conduct that never occurred, and for injuries which do not exist," Graf's attorneys write in the counterclaim.
Graf was the subject of an internal investigation by CofC in 2013 after a former student (known as John Doe for anonymity's sake) claimed that Graf had sexually abused him while a student in the postgraduate Artist Certificate program. Graf resigned in the midst of the investigation, and although the college later dropped the case, Graf is still banned from campus.
On April 1, 2014, Doe sued Graf, the college, President George Benson, and former Music Department Dean Steve Rosenberg claiming that he had "endured great and debilitating psychological abuse, psychological trauma, shame, humiliation, self-loathing, depression, guilt, and physical abuse at the hands of Graf" and that school officials had failed to protect him from harm.
In the countersuit, filed May 8, Graf once again denies all of the claims made by Doe. The suit also states that Doe's claims are barred by a statute of limitations; however, since the student started as a student at the CofC in the fall of 2008, all of his claims appear to fall within South Carolina's six-year statute of limitations for actions based on alleged sexual abuse.
Graf's countersuit also denies that John Doe is "impoverished," as was claimed in the original lawsuit, which said the student came to CofC because Graf offered him a scholarship. "Upon information and belief, his mother has chartered two corporations in the State of Hawaii. Upon information and belief she owns and operates a successful restaurant and a cultural arts program," the countersuit states.
The countersuit says Doe was arrested while a student "on account of his involvement with marijuana" and that, at some point, Doe started using synthetic marijuana, also known as "spice" or "K2," and that his "drug usage spiraled out of control in the Summer of 2012 when he began to evidence irrational thoughts and behavior."
The countersuit was accompanied by an affidavit from a woman who claims to be Doe's ex-girlfriend of two years. In it, the woman states that Doe was "becoming increasingly reliant on a couple different drugs" in 2012, the year when Doe claims that Graf sexually abused him at a summer music festival in Italy. During the festival, the woman says Doe began experiencing withdrawal symptoms including panic attacks and hallucinations in which "he could 'hear' the antagonistic thoughts of the students and professors, directed towards him."
The counterclaim asks that Doe's lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice and that Graf be awarded the costs and fees associated with his legal defense. It also states that Doe willfully defamed Graf and asks for punitive damages.
Graf requested a jury trial in his counterclaim. The original lawsuit by Doe was moved to a U.S. district court for the District of South Carolina on May 2.