Community College Fires Instructor

By Kavita Kumar
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 25, 2007

The St. Louis Community College has fired an instructor who was accused of sexually abusing one of his high school students in California nearly a decade ago.

This action comes a month after the college suspended the instructor, Meramec campus choral director Larry Stukenholtz, with pay while it looked into the matter.

The college's board voted to terminate his contract last week in a closed meeting. Bob Nelson, the board chairman, referred calls to the college spokeswoman.

Spokeswoman Pat Crowe said Monday that the college called Stukenholtz on Friday to tell him that his employment at the college had been terminated. Because of the confidential nature of the issue, she said she could not release more details.

Stukenholtz could not be reached for comment. He had worked at the college since 2001.

The college first investigated the matter more than a year ago when the alleged victim, Sarah Gray, filed a civil suit against Stukenholtz. Gray was 17 at the time of the alleged incidents and was a student of his at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif.

Crowe said the college did not then find any information that would call for a change in Stukenholtz's status with the college. Stukenholtz called the charges "ridiculous" and unfounded at the time.

Crowe said the college started the second investigation in October following media reports and other pieces of new information brought to the college's attention. On Oct. 5, the Catholic Diocese of Orange County, Calif., agreed to pay $6.7 million to settle that lawsuit, along with others against employees of high schools and parishes.

In November, Gray attended a board meeting where she gave the board copies of a sworn statement by Patrick Murphy, president of Mater Dei. In the statement, Murphy said Stukenholtz had resigned in 1999 after school officials had determined that he had "inappropriate sexual relations with a former student."

Stukenholtz said at that time that the college was backing him completely.

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