Court rules Bustamante's personnel files be released to public



Posted on October 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 3 at 7:18 PM

MOSCOW, Idaho—A judge has ruled that University of Idaho can release the personnel records of Ernesto Bustamante. Bustamante is the former UI psychology professor who police say committed suicide after shooting and killing UI grad student Katy Benoit on August 22nd in Moscow, ID.

Today Idaho 2nd District Judge John R. Stegner ruled the personnel records of Ernesto Bustamante to be available to the public due to his death stating that Bustamante is a former public figure and waived the right to privacy by becoming a public officer. Attorneys say it could take several weeks to release the documents.

An autopsy of Benoit conducted on August 23, 2011 revealed that she had been struck eleven times with .45 caliber bullets.

Documents seized during the search of the hotel room at the University Inn confirm Benoit and Bustamante first met in the fall semester of 2010 when Benoit was a student taking psychology 218 taught by Professor Ernesto Bustamante.

Moscow Police say it was determined that by the end of the semester that Benoit and Bustamante were involved in a romantic relationship.

Documents seized indicate that Benoit filed a sexual harassment complaint with the University of Idaho on June 12, 2011.  In the complaint it was alleged that threats of violence occurred on three separate occasions where Bustamante held a gun to her head and detailed the manner in which he would use it.

Police say the first incident occurred the end of January 2011, the second incident occurred the week after spring break 2011, and the third incident occurred the second week of May 2011, which ended the relationship.

The Moscow Police Dept. say Bustamante denied the allegations of violence and sexual harassment.  Bustamante filed a formal complaint against Benoit on July 8, 2011 in reference to making unfounded complaints and potential defamation of character.  Bustamante stated the two had a close personal relationship sharing intimate aspects about their personal lives.

On June 10, 2011 at 3:04 p.m., Lt. Lehmitz with the Moscow Police Dept. received a telephone call from Benoit as a result of the University of Idaho referring her to address safety concerns.  Lt. Lehmitz spoke with her advising her of basic safety principles and to call police if any threatening or suspicious incident were to occur.

On July 14, 2011, the University of Idaho requested the Moscow Police Department participate in a threat assessment concerning the alleged threatening behavior of Bustamante relating to Benoit.  

As a result of the information gathered in the threat assessment, the Moscow Police Department attempted several phone contacts with Benoit, leaving messages to get in touch with the Moscow Police Campus Division, but they say she did not return the phone calls.