Recruiting aide testifies without an attorney

Updated: June 11, 2004, 9:25 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A grand jury looking into the University of Colorado football scandal heard testimony Friday from a parade of athletes and a former recruiting aide accused of paying $2,000 to an escort service.

The aide, Nathan Maxcey, testified for two hours without an attorney after at least nine current or former players went inside. He said he did not believe he would be indicted.

"I answered the questions I wanted to answer," Maxcey said afterward, refusing to be specific. "I didn't answer the ones I didn't want to."

Maxcey, a football recruiting aide from June 2002 to July 2003, has said any sexual liaisons he arranged were for him, not athletes.

"The only thing they could possibly indict me for is solicitation," said Maxcey. "Just ask all the recruits who were there when I was there whether they did anything [wrong] and they'll say no."

The grand jury investigation is the first indication criminal charges may be filed in a scandal that has led to sweeping changes in the football program and a scathing review of university leadership.

Legal experts have said they think investigators led by the office of Attorney General Ken Salazar are trying to figure out whether university funds were misused. Salazar's office has declined to comment.

Among those testifying last month before the grand jury was Pasha Cowan, who has said Maxcey paid her former escort service $2,000 in cash.

Her attorney, Mark Johnson, said she has told police and attorneys handling federal lawsuits against the school that Maxcey hired escorts for football players. Maxcey has repeatedly denied the claim.

Among the players called into the grand jury room Friday was linebacker Chris Hollis, who was suspended in February for taking a recruit to a strip club in Boulder. Another player, lineman Del Scales, refused to discuss his testimony but said he hasn't seen anything he would consider improper or illegal during his time at Colorado.

"Maybe, hopefully, I helped the team," said Scales, who announced this week he was leaving Colorado to be closer to his suburban Dallas home.

Scales, who announced this week he was leaving Colorado to be closer to his suburban Dallas home, denied that the scandal had disrupted the team. "If anything, the scandal has brought the team together," he said.

Salazar, at the governor's request, has been investigating whether criminal charges are warranted in the scandal, which includes allegations of sexual assault and questions about the use of university funds.

Salazar earlier decided against charges in nine alleged assaults by football players or recruits, citing evidentiary concerns and the reluctance of the women to go forward with the cases. The assault allegations date to at least 1997.

A Board of Regents investigative commission concluded university officials did not condone any misconduct but repeatedly failed to properly oversee the athletics department. The commission, which lacked subpoena power, also urged the attorney general to look into the circumstances surrounding Maxcey.

According to the commission, three call girls from Best Variety said Maxcey paid them at least $2,000 in cash over a 45-day period "and arranged sex for other young men" at a Broomfield hotel.

Maxcey's duties included picking up recruits and checking them in at the hotel, the Omni Interlocken, which is used by football recruits visiting the campus in nearby Boulder.

A recent university audit found Maxcey made nearly $1,200 worth of calls to an escort service and a chat line from his school-issued cell phone. He has repaid the university most of the money.

Director of football operations David Hansburg in February said Cowan told him about Maxcey's sexual liaisons during a call in which she asked for a job. According to Hansburg, Cowan said, "I'm not trying to blackmail you."

Still pending in the scandal are federal lawsuits filed by three women who say they were raped by recruits or players at or just after an off-campus party in December 2001. Boulder County prosecutor Mary Keenan's allegation that the school uses sex and alcohol to entice recruits -- made in a deposition for one of the suits -- helped spark the scandal earlier this year.

The lawsuits accuse Colorado of failing to protect the women under federal Title IX law, which guarantees equal access to an education. They seek unspecified damages.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press