Ex-athletic department employee to come forward

3/11/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

AURORA, Colo. -- One of the women who has accused University
of Colorado football athletes of rape may be interested in telling
her story if she can be assured of confidentiality, an official
said Tuesday.

Jacqueline St. Joan, a member of the independent panel
investigating the school's recruiting scandal, said the former
athletic department employee might consider talking if her identity
and what she says are protected.

The comments came during the second meeting of a panel appointed
by the university's Board of Regents to investigate the scandal.
Seven women have accused football players or athletes of rape since
1997, though no charges have been filed.

Three of the women have sued the school in federal court, saying
they were raped at or just after a 2001 off-campus party. The
women, who are seeking unspecified damages and policy changes, say
the school fostered a hostile environment in violation of federal
Title IX rules.

The Colorado attorney general is also investigating whether
criminal charges are warranted. Football coach Gary Barnett has
been placed on leave pending the outcome of the school's

The investigating panel does not have subpoena power and
lawmakers have said they are not interested in giving it to them.
Three private investigators told the panel Tuesday that offering
confidentiality to people being interviewed would be crucial.

St. Joan did not discuss further details about the alleged
victim who might come forward but said it was a client of attorney
Allison Lee.

Last week, Lee released a letter of apology from an athlete
accused of rape that says, "I am so sorry that I have caused you

The woman in that case worked for the school's athletic
department when she reported being raped in September 2001. She
said the player was visiting her in her apartment; he said the sex
was consensual.

In the end, she didn't pursue criminal charges, saying she
feared she would lose her job. She also said Barnett told her he
would back his player against her claim "100 percent" if she went

District Attorney Mary Keenan, who has accused Colorado of using
sex and alcohol to lure football recruits, has said she wasn't
aware of the woman's job fears.

According to a Boulder police report, the woman met on Oct. 1,
2001, with Barnett and two other department officials, Steve
Willard and Brian Winkelbauer. Lee said Barnett promised the player
would undergo treatment, and later Willard, who was the woman's
boss, asked if a letter of apology from the player would help. She
said yes.

"I am so sorry for what I have done to you," the letter says.
"I am so sorry that I have caused you pain. I would have never
thought, not in a million years, that I would hurt someone like
this. ... This is not who I am."

The letter ends with, "P.S. I am so sorry!!!"

The university has hired a special assistant, John DiBiaggio, to
examine the culture of the university athletic department and
report back to school officials.

DiBiaggio, who met for about an hour with the panel, said the
football program has a thorough handbook that defines expected
behavior but said the question is whether those policies are

"If, indeed, everything in the handbook was religiously
followed, I don't think we'd be here today," he told reporters. He
said responsibility for enforcing the handbook lies with coaches,
athletic directors and, ultimately, university presidents.