Suit claims teacher convinced teen to perform sexual acts

TACOMA, Wash. -- A young Gig Harbor woman is suing the state and her former community college vocal instructor, claiming he sexually manipulated her.

The alleged misconduct took place two years ago at Tacoma Community College, where a music instructor allegedly convinced a 17-year-old student to take off her clothes and touch herself sexually to see how it affected her vocal range.

Criminal charges against the instructor were dropped, but he did lose his job and now finds himself at the center of a scandal that many students say is disgusting.

"On his part, extremely creepy," said student Aimee Van Horn.

Tacoma Community College has a well established music program, where until two years ago Kevin Gausepohl worked as a vocal instructor.

Now Gausepohl, the school and the state of Washington are being being sued, accused of not doing enough to protect a teenage student.

The girl was part of Running Start, where high school students take college classes. She claims Gausepohl convinced her to perform sexual acts two years ago as part of a study on vocal qualities.

Other students told college officials about it.

"When the college became aware that there was a situation we immediately acted and contacted the student and her parent and had them come in. The faculty member was immediately put on administrative leave," said Mary Chikwinya, the college's vice president of student services.

Through his attorney, Gausepohl has denied doing anything wrong.

"Mr. Gausepohl committed no crimes of any sort. He did nothing illegal. The charges were brought, in my opinion, erroneously," said attorney Robert Perez.

Perez said the girl was in a college setting, not a high school were teacher-student relationships are forbidden. He said there may have been a discussion of an adult nature, but no crime.

Some students on campus disagree with that reasoning.

"She's a victim," said student Suzie Chambers. "You don't just do that for anyone, so he would have had to gain her trust over who knows how long a period of time."

The civil suit is being filed now because the college and state did not respond to an earlier claim filed by the student.