In an unprecedented move, University of Idaho President Duane Nellis has directed his legal counsel to seek a court ruling that could release private records regarding Ernesto Bustamante. Bustamante, a former professor at the U of I, was found dead Tuesday morning of a self-inflicted gunshot. At the time, Moscow police were serving a warrant on Bustamante, suspected in the murder of 22-year-old grad student Kathryn Benoit.
"We must do everything we can to protect our students and our campus community," said Nellis in a statement released this afternoon. "For that reason, I am asking for an independent review of the university's policies and procedures to ensure that we are doing the very best job we possibly can."
Nellis reaffirmed that the university was "committed to full public disclosure of all related documents, as it gains authority to release them." Nellis said a review of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act found that the confidentiality of student records does not extend beyond the life of a student. But Idaho's public records laws concerning employee records extend after death. To clarify the statutes, the university is asking for legal determination from the courts regarding what records it could release related to Bustamante.
Nellis said he spoke directly with the family of Benoit to share the condolences of the university community. A memorial service for Benoit will take place at Boise High School, Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m.