BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- Parents of a woman who claimed she was
raped by University of Colorado football players and recruits said
Tuesday CU leaders ignored mistreatment of women until public
pressure forced them to recognize it.
Rick and Karen Burd, whose daughter Lisa Simpson is suing the
university, told an investigative panel that CU officials have
worked for years to shift blame, leaving nobody ultimately
"One thing is apparent, no one is accountable," said Rick
Burd, Simpson's stepfather. "They have always acted concerned and
as soon as we left, they would go about their business."
In a written statement, university spokeswoman Pauline Hale said
Chancellor Richard Byyny recalled telling the Burds during a
January 2002 meeting that CU was changing its recruiting practices.
"His recollection is that the parents were complimentary about
the support she was receiving from the university," Hale said.
Recruits who attended a 2001 party at which Simpson said she was
raped were not allowed to enroll at CU, and some players who
attended were stripped of their scholarships.
The investigative panel was appointed by CU regents to look into
alleged mistreatment of women in the athletic department. The Burds
told the panel that they Byyny, CU president Elizabeth Hoffman,
athletic director Dick Tharp and football coach Gary Barnett should
Barnett was suspended in February in part for disparaging
remarks he made about former placekicker Katie Hnida while
responding to her claim that she was sexually assaulted and
harassed by teammates. Hnida now attends the University of New
Hoffman has said she will decide on Barnett's future this month.
Besides Simpson, who has agreed to allow her name to be used in
news stories, two other women have sued CU alleging they were
sexually assaulted by players or recruits at or just after the Dec.
7, 2001, party at Simpson's off-campus apartment.
The lawsuits claim the university fostered an environment
hostile to women.
At least five other women since 1997 have accused players and
recruits of rape. No sexual assault charges have been filed, but
the state attorney general, appointed by the governor as a special
prosecutor, is investigating.
Karen Burd said that in her meeting with Byyny and Vice
Chancellor Ron Stump, they told her about a similar alleged rape in
"I truly believe that there would be no changes to the
recruiting policy, no panel, no investigation if this hadn't become
so public a few months ago,'' she said. "Had they done anything
other than what they did, could Dec. 7, 2001, have been
Also Tuesday, the panel heard from Jeannie Dixon, a former
assistant athletic director for community relations, who filed a
sex- and race-discrimination complaint against the university. She
joined the department in 1998 and left last summer after her
position was eliminated by budget cuts.
Dixon, who said she was the only black person and one of only
two women in management in the department when she left, said the
results of voluntary gender-equity surveys she conducted in 2001
and 2003 showed women and minority athletic department employees
felt discriminated against. She said athletic director Dick Tharp
took no action that she knew of.
"Women were underutilized, felt they were worker bees and were
not promoted or compensated at the same rate as their male
counterparts," she said.
She told the panel that she believed there was a connection
between the elimination of her position and the surveys, saying she
was the only department employee terminated due to budget cuts.
Air Force Col. Debra Gray, one of five Air Force Academy leaders
appointed during a shakeup last year amid a sexual assault scandal,
told the panel that cultural and institutional change requires time
and careful thought.
"In any large organization ... there are a multitude of
processes and I think if they're not knitted together properly
there can be disconnects,'' she said. "If you don't understand the
dynamics of sexual assault, you will build a great system, but will
not solve the problem."
The panel plans to present its report to CU regents later this
month. It scheduled meetings Monday and Tuesday to approve the
Asked by a panelist how the alleged attack and publicity about
the lawsuit have affected her daughter, Karen Burd said for a short
time afterward, Simpson couldn't walk on campus alone.
"Her whole life has changed and it will be forever,
obviously," she said. "But for her I think the saddest thing is
her whole college experience was not what she expected it to be; it
was robbed from her."
She said Simpson, 22, dropped out of CU's business school in
February, the final semester of her senior year, because of
publicity. "She just felt so conspicuous. The pressure was just