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3/2/2005

CU put back in spotlight

By Judith Kohler and Dan Elliott
The Associated Press

DENVER — The University of Colorado football recruiting scandal was shoved back into the spotlight Tuesday by a secret grand jury report laced with inflammatory allegations about sexual assaults, slush funds and marijuana enticements for blue chip athletes.

New details of the findings were leaked to the media this week, reviving calls for the grand jury report to be officially made public and renewing questions about why the investigation resulted with a single indictment against a low-level university employee.

Among the newly disclosed allegations: Two female trainers said they were sexually assaulted by an assistant football coach; one of the women was “coerced to perform sexual favors for players and recruits repeatedly” over two years; and thousands of dollars from coach Gary Barnett’s football camp went into a “slush fund” stashed in 16 or 17 cash boxes and made available to Barnett and other athletics department officials.

The report concurred with an independent commission’s finding last year that players arranged sex, alcohol and marijuana for recruits, without the permission of coaches.

The latest details were first reported by KUSA-TV and The Denver Post. A source who has seen the report confirmed the contents to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

University officials asked Denver District Judge Jeff Bayless for permission to respond publicly to the newly disclosed allegations. Bayless, who oversaw the grand jury, last year ordered the report kept secret and prohibited all parties from discussing its contents. The judge had not acted on CU’s request by late Tuesday afternoon.

Barnett declined comment, citing the judge’s order. CU President Elizabeth Hoffman said the school does not tolerate sexual harassment and has made changes in athletics.

Dave Plati, a spokesman for the athletics department, said the assistant coach who was accused of assault was no longer at the school but declined to identify him. He said the allegation “was not a surprise to us when it became public knowledge,” but he declined to say how long officials were aware of it.

The grand jury began its investigation in May after allegations that the football program used sex, strippers and alcohol as a recruiting tool and that nine women since 1997 had been assaulted by players or recruits. Three women later sued the university, saying they were raped during or after a December 2001 off-campus party for football players and recruits; one has since dropped her lawsuit.

 

 
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