BOISE, Idaho — The University of Idaho and the family of a graduate student who was gunned down by a professor she had dated have reached a settlement, according to a joint statement issued late Thursday.
Financial terms weren't disclosed, but Katy Benoit's family plans to donate all proceeds of the settlement to charitable causes, primarily through a memorial fund established after the 22-year-old's death in August.
A statement issued by school President Duane Nellis, Benoit's parents Gary and Janet, and Benoit's brother, Andy, detailed changes that would be made at the university as part of the settlement, including improved communication with police.
"While nothing can undo Katy's tragic loss of life, we find comfort in taking the first of what will be many steps in following through on our original mission: bringing as much good from this situation as possible," the statement said.
Benoit had complained to the university last June about 31-year-old assistant psychology professor Ernesto Bustamante, saying she broke off their relationship after he pointed a loaded gun at her head on three separate occasions, threatening her life.
Bustamante, who had been known to alternately refer to himself as a "psychopathic killer" and "the beast," disclosed that he took medication for bipolar disorder shortly after he was hired in 2007, according to public records obtained The Associated Press and other media.
After Benoit filed her complaint, school officials have said they urged her to take safety precautions and contacted police immediately, while also complying with the student's wishes. Benoit did not want officials to discuss her allegations with police, the university has said.
Bustamante resigned Aug. 19, three days before police say he went to Benoit's off-campus home in Moscow and shot her 11 times while she stood on her back porch. Bustamante then checked into a hotel before turning a gun on himself, according to police.
Authorities say they found six guns in his hotel room, along with medications for bipolar disorder and severe anxiety.
After the deaths, Benoit's family was among those questioning whether the university could have done more to prevent tragedy.
Benoit's family filed a $3 million tort claim against the university in December, saying the school "negligently and recklessly" hired, retained and supervised Bustamante. The university knew that he engaged in abusive sexual relationships with female students and "failed in its duty to prevent Bustamante's sexual harassment of Katy Benoit," according to the family's claim.
The AP reported Tuesday that a settlement had been reached, according to two people with knowledge of the settlement who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The university and the Benoit family did not confirm or comment on the agreement until late Thursday, issuing a statement several hours after the deal was approved by the state Board of Education during a meeting on the Moscow campus.
A settlement may bring some closure in the wake of shootings that police have described as a murder-suicide. The events horrified faculty, students and parents, and brought Idaho's oldest public university under intense scrutiny.
After the deaths, faculty leaders revised university policy to more strongly discourage relationships between faculty members. The university also worked to implement recommendations released by an independent panel in late November.
In their joint statement, Nellis and Benoit's family said further actions being taken in the wake of the tragedy include:
— Improved sexual harassment training for students, staff and faculty.
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