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Surviving Music College as a Woman: A Stefan Engels Incident

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Trigger Warning: This post is concerning sexual assault.

Stefan Engels SMU

Recently, I posted on Facebook and Instagram about a troubling incident involving one of my mentors. I am finishing up a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Composition and Organ Performance. Recently, I have been working towards building up my resume and connections to make finding a professor position more obtainable. I recently have started to participate in organ masterclasses, festivals, and summer programs in order to improve my playing skills. I intend to become a concert organist one day. Most recently I gained Stefan Engels as a professional connection after being instructed by him in a masterclass. The rest is history and outlined clearly below.

On Monday, November 6, Stefan Engels physically and sexually assaulted me in a hotel room in Bedford, TX. Professor Engels is the Leah Young Fullinwider Centennial Chair in Music Performance and Chair of the Organ Department at Southern Methodist University (SMU).

The details of the incident are quite graphic. I was tied up, blindfolded, whipped, hit, and sexually assaulted. I have photographs from a hospital exam, taken the following day, which show all of the multiple injuries. In addition, leading up to the incident, I received several messages over Facebook messenger from Professor Engels stating that he had had previous intimate relationships with students and had hired prostitutes on multiple occasions and wished to do so again.

The reason I made this post is because SMU’s Title IX office stated to me on Monday, November 18 that these acts by Professor Engels are permissible, since they did not directly happen to an SMU student. I believe this statement to be deeply problematic. At this time, I am unclear whether another department/office at SMU will be taking action. I met and was targeted by Professor Engels due to participating in an organ class taught by him at the Southern Methodist University. A few days later, I was directly instructed by him in a masterclass at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas and then again instructed by him during an organ tour the following day. We had a student/teacher relationship and an age gap of several decades. If I can be targeted, potentially any student could be targeted.

I believe professors should not be using masterclasses as a way to identify students they can victimize. Professors are people we idolize and hold above others in our society. It is the responsibility of professors to uphold the highest level of morality and standards of behavior. It is abhorrent that a professor, such as Professor Engels, would take advantage of those they are meant to be mentoring. This was my first time reporting such an incident and to my surprise I have been met with people and institutions continually trying to silence me. I share my story, so that I can expose this great issue that so many people face in educational institutions and society in general. I hope I can help make positive changes.

Below are two screenshots of messages that I have released. I am withholding other evidence at this time.

stefan engels message
Message sent by Stefan Engels

stefan engels students
Message sent by Stefan Engels

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