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Investigator gave lie-detector test to player

2/17/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

DENVER -- A former FBI agent resigned from the panel that
will investigate the University of Colorado recruiting scandal
Tuesday after it was revealed that he once gave a lie-detector test to a
university football player tied to the alleged rapes of three
women.

Board of Regents Chairman Pete Steinhauer said Kenneth Vardell
had quit. Steinhauer said he did not plan to find a replacement
to fill the eighth spot on the panel, which will begin work next
month.

Vardell did not return a message seeking comment late Tuesday.
Earlier, he said he would step aside if asked, though he did not
believe the polygraph exam given more than two years ago
constituted a conflict of interest.

Vardell, who describes himself as a consultant for investigators
and is the father of a National Football League player, said he was
only doing his job. The 63-year-old said he has done thousands of tests.

"As a polygraph examiner, I am a seeker of the truth," he said.
"A conflict of interest suggests a bias. How can seeking the truth
be a conflict of interest?"

Vardell gave the test to Marques Harris, a
Colorado football player who pleaded guilty to giving alcohol to
minors at an 2001 off-campus party.

That party is at the heart of three federal lawsuits filed
against the school by women who say they were raped by football
athletes at the Boulder apartment or in a dorm room afterward. (Harris said he was not involved with any sort of sexual assault
and the polygraph results backed him up, according to police
files.)

Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan did not charge anyone with a sex crime after the party, though Harris and three other football players
were convicted of giving alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor.

The school is at the center of a firestorm over the lawsuits.
Keenan has said that the
school uses sex and alcohol to lure recruits, prompting a warning
from the governor.

University officials have denied the allegations, but they faced more
controversy Tuesday with an allegation from former player Katie
Hnida that she was raped by a football player in the summer of 2000.

University President Elizabeth Hoffman urged Hnida to tell her
story to police.

The investigative panel has met with mixed reaction. Co-chair
Joyce Lawrence was criticized after suggesting the women put
themselves at risk by attending the alcohol-fueled party, and some
have questioned why there is no victim's advocate on the panel.

A second commission member told reporters he was not surprised
his appointment had been questioned because of his close friendship
with former Colorado football coach Bill McCartney.

Phillip Porter, a Pentecostal Bishop, once helped lead the Promise Keepers religious movement launched by McCartney.

Porter was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Regent Tom Lucero, who nominated him, said Porter has no plans to
resign. He said
Steinhauer has told him he wants him to remain on the commission
but doesn't know how the majority of the board feels.

Porter said he had warned his family to be prepared for
controversy when he was appointed.

"When you do public service, people want to know who you are,"
he said. "I think there really is some question [in the minds of
some] on whether I could serve impartially."

Asked whether he would be disappointed if asked to resign, he said,
"I'll only be disappointed if the panel asks me to step down and
doesn't replace me with another member of the clergy" and "a
person of color." Porter is black.

Besides Vardell and Porter, others appointed to the commission
Monday were former state Supreme Court justices Jean Dubofsky and
Luis Rovira, attorney David Powell and Broomfield judge Jacqueline
St. Joan. Lawrence is co-chairing the panel with another former
lawmaker, Peggy Lamm.