Lawsuit will go to trial in May

Updated: September 29, 2004, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A nearly 2-year-old lawsuit that rocked the University of Colorado and touched off the football recruiting scandal will finally go to trial next spring.

A judge set a May 31 date on Wednesday for the federal suit filed by former CU student Lisa Simpson, who said she was raped by players or recruits at an off-campus party in December 2001.

The lawsuit has been consolidated with one filed by another woman with similar claims. Both women accuse the school of fostering an environment in which women routinely suffer sexual harassment in violation of federal laws requiring equal access to education.

Last week, Simpson sought to add allegations that school officials retaliated against her for filing the suit, but she withdrew the request Wednesday after U.S. magistrate Craig Shaffer said that could delay the trial until 2006.

"At some point, the plaintiffs have to ask what is the issue they really want to scratch," he said.

Simpson had wanted to add arguments that officials at the university's Denver campus reversed themselves and refused to let her enroll under a pseudonym.

She also wanted to add an allegation that CU regent Paul Schauer falsely told politicians that Simpson had invited athletes to her apartment the night of the party and answered the door naked.

"The conduct (of CU) was an outrage, but the fact we have a trial date is wonderful news for us," Simpson's attorney, Baine Kerr, said outside the courtroom.

Attorneys for CU declined comment, but university spokeswoman Michele Ames said the school was also pleased to have a trial date and was confident its request to have the case dismissed would be granted.

School officials have denied Simpson's claims. They said the new allegations were so vague they could not respond.

Simpson's lawsuit helped spark a football recruiting scandal and several investigations into whether CU used sex and alcohol to recruit football players. No criminal sexual assault charges were ever filed.

A total of three women have filed lawsuits alleging they were raped by football players or recruits who attended the December 2001 party.

Shaffer gave Simpson's attorneys until Monday to submit arguments on why CU should give them notes that football coach Gary Barnett took during an independent panel's investigation into the recruiting program.

He granted a motion to allow CU attorneys to take another deposition from Simpson's therapist.

It is the policy of The Associated Press not to use the names of alleged rape victims, but Simpson has agreed to have her name used in media reports.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press