Lawsuit claims university failed to act even after teacher confessed to abusing another child during private piano lessons
HOUSTON – A Houston woman has filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Rice University and a former piano instructor – who is serving time for indecency with another child – claiming years of abuse that began when she was 10 years old.
Blizzard Law PLLC is representing the victim, who is listed as “I.R.” in the lawsuit filed in Harris County. For video/sound of the attorney speaking about this case and to read a copy of the filing, click here.
“I feel very betrayed,” said the victim’s mother. “We had been with Rice for many years, and I thought we were doing right by our child the whole time, when what we were actually doing was putting her in danger.”
According to the lawsuit, Dr. Dariusz Pawlas began sexually abusing the child during private piano lessons at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Dr. Pawlas received his master’s and doctorate in musical arts at Rice University, and his students ranged from first graders to high school seniors.
According to the lawsuit, the abuse consisted of groping the victim’s inner thighs and breasts, to pressing his erection against her back while he stood behind her at the piano.
“This type of behavior by a trusted teacher in a young girl’s life should never be tolerated,” said trial lawyer Anna Greenberg. “Not only should he be held accountable to the highest degree, but Rice University is also responsible for the traumatic experiences this young girl and others experienced at the hands of Dariusz Pawlas.”
According to court records, I.R. is the second known victim of Dr. Pawlas. He is currently incarcerated in Rusk County, following a 2016 conviction for felony indecency with another student who came forward with an eerily similar experience. Dr. Pawlas became eligible for parole on April 1, 2021.
Following the first complaint of abuse, Rice University neither fired Dr. Pawlas nor did it inform parents of his other students. Instead, the university waited six months to fire him, the day after he was criminally charged. In the interim, Dr. Pawlas had confessed his inappropriate conduct to police.
The case is I.R. v. William Marsh Rice University et al., Cause No. 2022-04366 in Harris County District Court.