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University angered by DA's accusations

1/29/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BOULDER, Colo. -- A prosecutor claims sex parties have been
used to lure football recruits to the University of Colorado and
police may have helped cover up problems that include the alleged
rapes of three women.

In testimony given for a civil rights lawsuit against the
school, Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan said the
athletic department resisted demands to halt the parties. A campus
police officer said one recruit told him sex was part of "what you
get when you come to Colorado."

University officials called a late afternoon news conference to
dispute the claims.

"The accusation is wrong, inaccurate and false," football
coach Gary Barnett said. He and other school officials left without
taking questions.

Gov. Bill Owens said he was shocked by the allegations and
demanded a public accounting. He insisted the university take steps
to reassure female students that it will not tolerate a climate of
sexual misconduct.

"Women are not recruiting tools," Owens said.

Keenan's and the officer's depositions were released Thursday by
the plaintiff in the lawsuit, one of three women who say they were
raped by recruits or players during or after a 2001 off-campus
party.

Keenan said the deposition "speaks for itself" and that she
would not comment further.

The suit was filed by one of the alleged victims, former student
Lisa Simpson, who has agreed to have her name used publicly. She
accuses the football program of fostering an environment in which
women routinely suffer sexual harassment.

In a Sept. 23, 2003, deposition with Simpson's attorney, Barnett
said five or six of the men who were at the December 2001 party
told him that Simpson handed them condoms before they went into a
bedroom with four women.

"From that point on, it became group sex," Barnett said in the
deposition.

He also said the players told him they put recruits and
themselves in "a very inappropriate situation" involving alcohol
and consensual sexual conduct.

Former Colorado athlete Monique Gillaspie, who said she was
raped by two football players after the 2001 party, praised Owens'
stance. She urged other women who "have fallen prey to CU football
program misconduct" to step forward.

Gillaspie and her parents issued the statement through her
lawyer.

Keenan investigated the case, but ended up charging four players
with providing marijuana and alcohol to minors. She has said she
decided against assault charges because the men believed they had
been promised sex at the party, making it difficult to prove rape
beyond a reasonable doubt.

In her deposition, Keenan said she met with athletic department
officials after a woman reported being raped during a recruiting
function in 1997. She said she met with officials again after the
alleged 2001 attacks, and did not believe the university was taking
her complaints seriously.

In a statement, university spokeswoman Pauline Hale said the
school strongly disputes the claim.

Keenan also said Officer Dan Spicely, who acted as a liaison
between the football program and Boulder police, might have told
coaches and players to meet before the investigation began.

"It gave (coaches and players) a chance to cover it up,"
Keenan said.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner denied the allegation, saying
there was no evidence Spicely interfered with the investigation.

In another deposition, campus police Officer Timothy Delaria
described another 2001 party as "some kind of sex party for the
recruits." He said recruits were shown a pornographic video and
told that easy sex was a fringe benefit of playing at Colorado.

Delaria, discussing a police interview with a football recruit,
said the recruit told officers, "They told us, you know, 'This is
what you get when you come to Colorado.' "

The NCAA sets restrictions on entertaining recruits, requiring
that entertainment be comparable to that of normal student life and
not be excessive, spokeswoman Kay Hawes said. She said there is no
set definition of excessive entertainment.

Hawes declined to say whether the NCAA was investigating
allegations against the Colorado football program.