Scandal could bring criminal indictments

Originally Published: August 19, 2004
Associated Press

DENVER -- A state grand jury wrapped up its investigation into the sex-and-alcohol recruiting scandal at the University of Colorado on Thursday. There was no immediate word on whether it had handed up any criminal indictments.

The jurors, who began meeting in May, filed out of the courtroom without comment. Many were smiling, and one kissed a bailiff on the cheek.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Whitney said the grand jury had been dismissed and refused to say whether criminal charges will be filed.

Attorney General Ken Salazar, a U.S. Senate candidate, met briefly with the panel about 3½ hours before it was dismissed. He declined to say what action the jurors would take.

Grand jurors stopped hearing from witnesses at about 10 a.m., when Broomfield police detective Bruce Fitzgerald left the jury room. Broomfield is the site of a hotel where an escort service manager has said former recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey arranged sex for young men.

Salazar's spokesman, Ken Lane, said he could not comment on pending investigations.

"When we have something to report, we will," he said.

It was unclear how long jurors deliberated because such proceedings are secret.

"That's the hallmark of a grand jury," said Craig Silverman, a former Denver prosecutor who now is a legal analyst and defense attorney. "We may never know what they did or if they even voted to indict."

Salazar was asked to lead the investigation by Gov. Bill Owens amid allegations that the football program used sex, strippers and alcohol to recruit promising athletes.

Maxcey, who has denied hiring call girls for recruits and who appeared before the grand jury in June, said he wasn't surprised the grand jury wrapped up its work with no indictments issued.

"The story doesn't change," he said in a phone interview from his parent's Dallas-area home. "I know what I did and didn't do. I didn't do those things, and we'll just leave it at that."

Nine women have said they were raped by Colorado football players or recruits since 1997, and three have filed federal lawsuits against the university. Prosecutors have not filed any sexual assault charges, citing concerns about the evidence and the reluctance of the women to pursue the cases.

An independent commission concluded that some football players provided sex and alcohol to recruits. The commission said university officials did not condone the practice but accused them of lax oversight.

Football recruits often stayed at the Broomfield hotel while visiting the campus in nearby Boulder.

Fitzgerald spent about an hour before the grand jury and declined to comment when he left. He also appeared before the panel in July.

The University of Colorado Foundation, which raises money for the university, has said the grand jury also is looking into foundation spending practices and into a private football camp run by head football coach Gary Barnett.

Legal experts have said they think Salazar's investigators were trying to determine whether university funds were misused. Salazar's office has declined to comment on any specifics.

The foundation and Barnett have said they did nothing wrong.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press