Attorneys for women suing CU will receive document that could help revive case
DENVER – Two women trying to revive their lawsuit against the University of Colorado over alleged misconduct in its football recruiting program must be given a document outlining another woman’s allegations that she was sexually assaulted by a football player, a judge ordered Wednesday.U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer ordered attorneys for the university to turn over the transcript of an interview by a CU campus police officer of the former student athletic trainer identified in court only as Trainer B. The university had previously declined to provide the document, which Shaffer said will be sealed, because attorneys believed it belonged to the state attorney general’s office.Kimberly Hult, an attorney for Lisa Simpson, one of the women suing the school, said after the hearing the document could help the women’s effort to revive the lawsuit.A federal judge in March dismissed the case, saying the women had failed to prove a key point in their allegation that CU violated a federal gender-equity law: that CU officials knew about – but did nothing to stop – sexual misconduct by football players and recruits.Simpson and another woman who has declined to be identified allege they were sexually assaulted by football players or recruits at an off-campus party in December 2001.The judge has not yet ruled on a request from the women’s attorneys to reconsider his decision in light of new evidence.”So much information was withheld from us for so long it’s hard to know what’s going to be contained in them, but it’s obviously important in this case and in these critical issues,” Hult said.CU attorneys said they could not make the decision to give the document to the women’s attorneys, and they have said in court filings that an assistant attorney general was unsure what authority he would have to turn it over because the interview was conducted as part of an investigation by a task force formed by former Attorney General Ken Salazar.Larry Pozner, an attorney for CU, told the judge he had no problem giving the document to the women’s attorneys now that he had a court order.Pozner and other attorneys for CU have said they provided the women’s attorneys with all the information they believed they could legally turn over, and did not intentionally withhold anything.Shaffer put on hold for five days his order to CU’s attorneys to turn over the Trainer B interview, giving the state attorney general’s office time to decide whether to object to it. Shortly after the hearing, attorney general’s spokesman Jason Dunn said the office would not object.According to court documents, Trainer B told an investigator hired by CU that she didn’t “feel right” about her sexual contact with a football recruit and two players in November 2001, and told the investigator about an alleged sexual assault by an assistant football coach. The investigator concluded Trainer B hadn’t been sexually harassed or assaulted, but reported the allegations about the coach to the CU Office of Sexual Harassment.Last month, the women’s attorneys said another student trainer, known as Trainer C, was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2000 and that CU officials might have known about it. It was unclear from court filings whether Trainer C had alleged to have been assaulted by a football recruit or player, or someone else.Attorneys for Simpson and the other woman have said Trainer B’s statements bolster their argument that CU officials knew about – but failed to stop – sexual misconduct in the football recruiting program. They have argued that the dismissal of their lawsuit was premature because CU had failed to turn over the Trainer B interview and other documents they said could have helped the women’s claim.No criminal sexual assault charges have been filed in any of the cases.In other action, Blackburn ruled before Wednesday’s hearing that a sealed deposition of investigator Steven Snyder must be released to the public by Friday. Snyder was hired to help an investigative panel appointed by CU regents look into allegations that CU’s football recruiting program used sex and alcohol to entice top prospects.The deposition was ordered released before the lawsuit was dismissed, throwing its status into question, an attorney for the Rocky Mountain News said in a court filing.
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