Pianist Calls Professor a Sexual Predator
CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) - A piano student claims his dream of being a classical musician became a nightmare when the professor who gave him a scholarship demanded oral sex and other sexual favors.
John Doe sued Enrique Graf, the College of Charleston, the school president and the former dean of its music department, in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas.
Doe says he met Graf at a piano recital in 2007.
At the time, Doe says, he was living in a state "thousands of miles" from South Carolina. He claims that after talking about his dream of being a professional classical musician, Graf, then a music professor and artist-in-residence at the College of Charleston, offered him a full scholarship to study piano there.
Doe describes the Graf's offer as the chance of a lifetime, as his family is impoverished. He says he readily accepted the offer and enrolled in the college for the fall semester of 2008, when he was 17.
"Prior to enrolling in college, plaintiff had never been away from home or his parents for any appreciable period of time, only occasionally with a piano teacher and other parents to piano recitals, and to a camp to treat a serious genetic medical condition which was never for more than a period of a week or two," Doe says.
Doe claims that at first his relationship with Graf "was a normal student-teacher relationship."
However, "at the end of the first semester of plaintiff's freshman year ... and continuing until after plaintiff had graduated from college with his undergraduate degree, Graf displayed a pattern of repeated unwanted and extremely inappropriate sexual advances toward plaintiff," the complaint states.
Doe claims that the pattern of inappropriate behavior began with Graf inviting him to his home in the evening, where "Graf encouraged plaintiff to experiment with drugs and alcohol and to attend parties, and Graf's encouragement made plaintiff feel as though there were no negative consequences for such behavior."
The complaint adds: "On numerous occasions Graf would offer plaintiff, who was at the time well under the age of twenty-one years, marijuana and alcoholic beverages and encourage plaintiff to use these substances."
Doe claims Graf scheduled his lessons at the professor's home to make it "easier for Graf to sexually abuse and/or harass plaintiff."
"Graf would touch plaintiff's back and legs in an appropriate manner while giving plaintiff piano instruction, which made plaintiff feel uncomfortable, but which plaintiff reasonably felt he had to submit to due to the impression of South American masculinity and culture that Graf presented as his cultural identity," the complaint states.
Eventually, Doe says, Graf told him that he was homosexual.
"Graf asked plaintiff how big his penis is ... and continued to try and coerce plaintiff into telling Graf about the size of his, plaintiff's penis, by claiming that he had seen the penis of another student, who was one of plaintiff's longtime acquaintances who also studied piano with plaintiff prior to attending college."
Despite all this, Doe says, he felt he had to continue his lessons with Graf, as he thought his scholarship depended on it.
At one of these sessions, he says, Graf coerces him into accepting a massage. He claims Graf instructed Doe to take off his clothes, then took off all but his own underwear.
"While Graf was giving plaintiff the massage, Graf rubbed his genitals on plaintiff's face and attempted to insert one of his fingers into plaintiff's anus," Doe says in the lawsuit.
He says this left him feeling "disgusted, ashamed and humiliated."
Still, he says, he feared that if he did not comply with Graf's wishes, the professor "would undermine his own career and education."
After the massage incident, Doe says, the unwanted attention from his professor waned. But he says that changed when Graf and several students went on a trip to Perugia, Italy to a music festival.
At the end of the festival, Doe says, Graf invited him to Paris to meet a former student.
"Graf paid for the trip and booked a hotel room in Paris for plaintiff and Graf to share," Doe says - an arrangement of which he says he was unaware until their arrival.
"Each night while in Paris, Graf supplied plaintiff with alcohol which plaintiff consumed at Graf's encouragement and insistence," Doe says.
He claims the professor also drugged him without his knowledge, and forced him to watch pornography.
Doe says he awoke one night during the stay in Paris and discovered the professor rubbing his penis against Doe's palm and fingers. Another time, Doe says, he awoke to find Graf performing oral sex on him.
"[W]hen Graf saw that plaintiff was awake, Graf asked plaintiff to perform oral sex on him (Graf), which terrified plaintiff." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Doe claims he "was not able to tell Graf 'no' or to stop because plaintiff was concerned of the repercussion that might follow for plaintiff's education and career should plaintiff refuse."
Doe says a similar incident occurred in the spring of 2012, when he traveled to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where Graf was also a professor.
While there, Doe says, "Graf asked Plaintiff to 'show (Graf) what a good blowjob is.'"(Parentheses in complaint.)
Doe claims he "refused Graf's request to perform oral sex on him until Graf adamantly pressed plaintiff and plaintiff reluctantly gave in."
Doe says all this caused him psychological trauma, shame, humiliation, self-loathing, depression and guilt.
He says he subsequently learned that the college had received a previous complaint is of inappropriate conduct involving Graf, and had settled a 1994 lawsuit involving allegations that the professor had sexually harassed another student.
Doe claims the college failed to take any steps to protect students or to remove Graf from his position.
Doe seeks punitive damages for Title IX violation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, outrage, assault and battery and other charges.
He is represented by Edward Pritchard III, of Charleston, and Taylor Schuster of Anderson & Schuster, in Mt. Pleasant.