2 Women Sue BU Music Professor For Distress, Harassment

Two former students of a Boston University music professor are suing him for infliction of emotional distress — and suing the university for failing to protect them.

The complaint was filed Tuesday against Eric Ruske, a professor of music in BU's College of Fine Arts, in Suffolk Superior Court.

One of the plaintiffs — Erin Shyr — is also suing Ruske for assault and battery. She says Ruske kissed her on the cheek and hugged her while putting his hand on her lower back.

Shyr, currently a junior at BU, says Ruske first sexually harassed her two years ago. She says when she reported it to BU, an administrator did not tell her if the school had sanctioned the professor or not.

Attached to the lawsuit is a letter from Eleanor Druckman, BU's assistant director of equal opportunity.

"My investigation indicated that Mr. Ruske's conduct was inconsistent with BU's policies," the letter says. "I have forwarded the report of my investigation to CFA Dean Benjamin Juarez."

Juarez stepped down as dean last year.

Shyr says the incidents have made her think about leaving school.

"It's tough to walk into the School of Music — sorry — and you don't know where he is," Shyr, a dual music and history major from Atlanta, said. "Or you can hear someone playing the horn, or you hear his laughter in the hallway, and if it's getting louder, he's getting closer."

The other plaintiff, Maria Currie, now a senior at the New England Conservatory, says Ruske harassed her in 2013.

Currie says Patricia Mitro, who at the time was the College of Fine Arts Deputy Title IX Coordinator, reached out to her to meet. Currie says she met with Mitro and Druckman in the summer of 2014.

"I even told them how Ruske had compared my playing to having sex with me in a personal meeting, and they seemed concerned, but not for me," said Currie, who is from upstate New York. "They seemed more concerned that something might happen to Ruske."

A voicemail on Ruske's BU phone says he's out of the country.

The suit accuses the school of negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention of the professor. The students also filed a federal sex discrimination lawsuit, under Title IX, against the university.

Colin Riley, a BU spokesman, says the university has not reviewed the lawsuit and cannot comment.

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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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