Women back in court, hope to revive suit against CU
DENVER ” Two women who say they were raped by University of Colorado football players or recruits were to return to court Wednesday in an attempt to revive their lawsuit claiming the school violated a federal gender-equity law.
Lisa Simpson and the other woman known publicly only as Jane Doe argue their alleged rapes at an off-campus party in December 2001 and allegations of assaults and harassment of other female students stem from university officials’ failure to stop misconduct they knew was occurring in the football recruiting program.
A federal judge in March dismissed the case, saying the women failed to prove a key point: that CU officials knew about but did nothing to stop sexual misconduct by football players and recruits.
Attorneys for the women have argued that the judge’s decision was premature because CU’s attorneys had failed to turn over documents that could have helped the women’s claim that CU violated a federal gender-equity law.
Wednesday’s hearing deals in part with one of those documents: a police interview of a student athletic trainer who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a player or a recruit. She was the second student trainer to make such claims; Barnett had met with the other trainer, according to previously released depositions and documents.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer also could ask CU’s attorneys to respond to a July 1 order calling for them to turn over documents and explain why they shouldn’t be punished for a “lack of candor” in discussing documents the women’s attorneys argued were improperly withheld.
Documents covered by that order included a police interview of the trainer, known as Trainer B. Attorneys for Simpson and Doe said in a court filing last month that the documents showed football coach Gary Barnett may have known about alleged sexual misconduct by players and recruits. They said the information would bolster their argument that CU officials knew about but failed to stop mistreatment of female students.
CU’s attorneys have said in court filings they did not intentionally withhold documents from the women’s attorneys. They said they learned last fall about some of the records including the Trainer B interview from the university’s Office of Sexual Harassment, but did not review them or turn them over to the women’s attorneys because they believed the material could not be disclosed under an order by the state attorney general.
Former Attorney General Ken Salazar had led a task force investigation into the university’s recruiting practices, but concluded that no criminal charges could be filed.
No criminal sexual assault charges have been filed in any of the cases.
The Rocky Mountain News also will argue for the public release of a sealed deposition of Steven Snyder. He 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, the newspaper’s attorney said in a court filing.
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