Report: Former CU place-kicker says problems began immediately
DENVER ” A former place-kicker at the University of Colorado who says she was raped by a teammate and terrified of telling her coach about it told NBC’s “Today” show the sexual harassment she endured began the day she joined the team.
Katie Hnida, who first told her story of rape and mistreatment to Sports Illustrated in February, said she is still haunted by what she went through.
“It’s been five years, and it’s still terrifying. It’s still something that I wake up with and I deal with,” Hnida said in an interview aired Monday. More from the interview was planned for Tuesday.
At least nine women, including Hnida, have said they were raped by Colorado football players or recruits since 1997. No criminal charges have been filed, though Hnida said she is part of an ongoing investigation with the attorney general and Boulder, Colo., law enforcement.
“The investigation is very far from over,” she told “Today.”
In a statement Monday, the university said it has asked Hnida to provide information about the alleged attack so action can be taken.
“Regretfully, she has chosen not to respond to these calls, but we understand that is her personal decision,” the school said. “We admire Katie’s strength and perseverance in pursuing her dream of playing college football, and we wish her the very best in her future endeavors.”
Hnida joined Colorado in 1999 as a walk-on but never got into a game. She transferred to New Mexico in 2002 and the next year became the first woman to score in a Division I-A football game when she kicked two extra points in a 72-8 win over Texas State-San Marcos.
Colorado coach Gary Barnett was suspended this year in part for comments he made after Hnida’s story was revealed. He called her an “awful” player and said “not only was she a girl, she was terrible. There’s no other way to say it.”
Hnida said her mistreatment began on the first day of practice when, on her way to the locker room, she was “surrounded by five men who were much bigger than I was asking me sexual questions.”
“It continued throughout the season,” she told “Today.” “Sometimes escalating into other things. A lot of sexual things going on. We would be in the huddle and guys would rub up against me. There were a few times when I would be alone in the hallways and guys would constantly be asking me if we could hang out as more than teammates and would literally ask me for oral sex. Would occasionally expose themselves … I was terrified, I was just scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do.”
She said she was assaulted by a player she trusted at his home, where they had gone to watch a game.
“We were sitting on the couch and he started to kiss me,” she said. “This is not quite OK. And then the next thing I knew he was on top of me. And it happened. … As soon as he was on top of me, I said no.”
She fled when he left to pick up a ringing telephone. She said she decided against telling the police or her parents, and Barnett was not an option: “The last thing I wanted to do was to go to a man who was unfriendly to me.”
“I can’t even imagine how he would have reacted. I literally was afraid he would have kicked me off the team,” Hnida said. “All I wanted was to be a football player. I didn’t want to bring up something like that because I thought it might mess up my chances … As sick that sounds, I wanted this so badly.”
The school has made sweeping changes to its athletics program and football recruiting since the scandal broke. Still pending are federal lawsuits filed against the school by two of the women who claim CU failed to adequately protect them.
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