DENVER — Former University of Colorado place-kicker Katie Hnida, who says she was raped by a teammate while playing for CU, will not have to give a deposition to attorneys defending the school in lawsuits claiming other women were raped by football players or recruits, a judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer denied a request by university lawyers to depose Hnida, saying they knowingly missed a deadline. Shaffer said CU attorneys knew well in advance that Hnida’s testimony may be helpful to their case but chose not to take a deposition.
“You have known for a long time this case was going to trial. I’m not going to save you from your conscious decisions,” Shaffer said.
The university had sought to interview Hnida and several other potential witnesses as part of the two lawsuits at the center of the CU football recruiting scandal. The lawsuits, which have been consolidated into one case, allege former CU student Lisa Simpson and another woman were raped by CU football players or recruits during a drunken off-campus party in December 2001. No sexual assault charges were filed.
The women accuse the university of fostering an environment in which women routinely suffered sexual harassment in violation of federal laws requiring equal access to education.
During a motions hearing in the case Tuesday, Shaffer gave permission to both sides to take depositions from some new witnesses. The university had sought 19 depositions from new witnesses but the judge allowed only four, Simpson’s attorney Baine Kerr said.
University attorney Larry Pozner said the ruling does not prevent Hnida from testifying during trial, which is scheduled to begin May 31. He would not comment on whom he intends to depose.
Kerr said he intends to interview former CU football coaches Bill McCartney and Rick Neuheisel.
Shaffer did not rule on a request by the women’s attorneys to allow Boulder County District Attorney Mary Keenan to testify as an expert witness. The status would allow Keenan to testify about her opinions — a far wider scope of testimony than would otherwise be allowed.
The judge said the women’s attorneys missed a critical deadline but would issue a ruling on the request later. CU attorneys have opposed the request.
During a deposition made public last January, Keenan said she believed CU used sex and alcohol to entice top football recruits. Those comments ignited the recruiting scandal and prompted several investigations into the school’s recruiting tactics.
Simpson’s attorneys also withdrew their request seeking testimony from Daniel Predovich, a certified auditor and fraud examiner who allegedly questioned some financial transactions when he reviewed school records for a grand jury investigation. The grand jury report has not been made public.