CU settles football sexual assault lawsuit for $2.85 million

P. Solomon Banda
The Associated Press
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The University of Colorado has agreed to pay $2.85 million to settle a lawsuit by two women who claimed they were gang-raped at an off-campus party for football recruits.

University spokesman Ken McConnellogue said Wednesday the school also agreed to hire an adviser to monitor compliance with Title IX and add a position in the office of Victim Assistance as part of the settlement.

A message left for Baine Kerr, an attorney for one of the women, was not immediately returned.

McConnellogue said one of the women, Lisa Simpson, will receive $2.5 million, with the other woman, who did not wish be identified publicly, receiving $350,000.

The Associated Press does not identify the victims of alleged sexual assault without their permission.

University President Hank Brown was to answer questions later Wednesday.

The women’s lawsuit alleged CU violated federal law by fostering an environment that allowed sexual assaults to occur. The suit accused the university of failing to adequately supervise players when the women were raped in 2001.

A U.S. district judge dismissed it in 2005, saying the women produced no evidence that the school acted with “deliberate indifference.”

In September, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the lawsuit, saying there was evidence the university had an official policy of showing high school recruits a “good time” and had shown deliberate indifference. The appeals judges sent the lawsuit back to district court.

CU has insisted its policies do not place female students at risk and said it has become a leader in policies to prevent sexual assault and harassment.

No sexual assault charges were filed after the 2001 party, but the lawsuit sparked a scandal over CU’s football recruiting practices that led to broad reforms and a shake-up of the university’s top leaders.

The fallout included the resignations of CU System President Betsy Hoffman and Athletic Director Dick Tharp.

The football team’s head coach at the time, Gary Barnett, survived the scandal, but later accepted a buyout after a 70-3 loss to Texas in the 2005 Big 12 championship game.

A grand jury investigation resulted in a single indictment against a former football recruiting aide for soliciting a prostitute and misusing a school cell phone.

A separate inquiry, backed by the university’s governing Board of Regents, concluded that drugs, alcohol and sex were used to entice blue chip recruits to the Boulder campus but said none of the activity was knowingly sanctioned by university officials.

The school responded by overhauling oversight of the athletics department and putting some of the most stringent policies in place for any football recruiting program.

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