The Colorado Attorney General’s Office does not intend to challenge a judicial refusal to unseal the report from the grand jury investigation into CU football recruiting practices, the office’s communications director said.
1997: A Niwot High School student is allegedly sexually assaulted at a party by Colorado football recruits.
1998: Boulder prosecutors Mary Keenan (now Mary Lacy) and Alex Hunter meet with Chancellor Richard Byyny and Athletic Director Dick Tharpe. A deposition released in 2004 includes Keenan saying that she put the football department “on notice” to prevent sex and alcohol from enticing recruits.
2001: A get-together at Lisa Simpson’s apartment turns into a party involving about 20 football recruits and a smaller number of women. Simpson and student Lisa Gilmore say they were raped and later file a lawsuit with student Monique Gillespie against the university.
Jan.: Excerpts from Keenan’s deposition quote her as accusing the football program of using sex and alcohol to lure recruits still in high school.
May: A grand jury is assembled and begins to investigate allegations of recruiting conduct and financial mismanagement at CU.
Aug.: The grand jury indicts CU recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey for improper use of a university-issued cell phone and for soliciting a prostitute.
Sept.: CU Board of Regents agrees to ask Judge Jeffrey Bayless to keep the grand jury report out of the public record.
Oct.: Bayless rules that the grand jury report should remain sealed because the investigation resulted in Maxcey’s indictment. Colorado state law, Bayless says, allows the grand jury only to release a report or an indictment.
Nov.: Bayless again rejects requests to unseal the report; then-Attorney General Ken Salazar plans to appeal the decision.
Nov.: Tharpe resigns as athletic director.
Dec.: Monique Gillespie drops from the Title IX lawsuit against CU.
Feb: CU announces a 19 percent drop in out-of-state enrollment and project a resulting $15 million loss.
Feb: KUSA-TV airs a segment including portions of the leaked grand jury report. CU officials speak out against the leak.
March: CU Foundation president sues KUSA-TV for making “false and inflammatory statements . and (acting) with reckless disregard for the truth.” The lawsuit was later dropped.
March: State legislators begin calling for the resignation of football Coach Gary Barnett and CU President Elizabeth Hoffman.
March: The CU Board of Regents hires public relations consultant Christopher Simpson at $350-per-hour to manage the university’s image during the scandal.
March: U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn throws out the lawsuit against CU, writing a summary judgment that rejects that CU violated Title IX. Blackburn writes in the judgment that the facts didn’t form “a constellation of relevant events” that provides enough evidence for the case to go to trial.
April: Lisa Simpson’s attorney Baine Kerr announces his intention to appeal Blackburn’s ruling.
April: Blackburn begins reconsidering his dismissal of the lawsuit.
July: U.S. District Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer orders CU to release documents that Simpson’s lawyers accuse the university of withholding.
July: Former low-ranking recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey pleads guilty to charges relating to the grand jury indictment.
Dec.: Coach Gary Barnett accepts a deal with the university and resigns as head coach while receiving $3 million in restitution.
Dec.: Grand jury forewoman Lynette Griggs expresses frustration with the legal system for not releasing the grand jury report. “A lot of work went into that investigation, and it’s unfortunate that the report is not to be released,” Griggs says.
Mar: Judge Blackburn again dismisses the lawsuit against CU, saying that the plaintiff’s reasons for challenging his summary judgment are invalid.
Mar.: A study by Ohio University Assistant Professor Heather Morris and two faculty members at Southeastern Louisiana University reveals that 27 percent of the more than 5,000 recruited athletes surveyed reported drinking alcohol on the recruiting trips, and eight admitted to rape.
June: Blackburn dismisses the lawsuit again.
Aug.: Lisa Simpson’s lawyers begin to appeal the Title IX lawsuit in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Oct.: An appeals court panel of judges reaffirms the decision the keep the grand jury report sealed.
“We have decided not to appeal the ruling,” Colorado Department of Law Communications Director Kristen Holtzman said Wednesday.
A three-judge panel on the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled on Oct. 19 that the grand jury report remain sealed. Under Colorado law, the panel said, a grand jury can release a report only if the jury does not issue any indictments. The three-month investigation indicted Nathan Maxcey, a recruiting aide who later pleaded guilty to soliciting a prostitute and official misconduct regarding his use of a university-issued cell phone.
The report would have been invaluable in the Title IX lawsuit against the university, said a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
“This is a significant decision that hurts us and helps CU,” said Baine Kerr, a lawyer representing former CU students Lisa Simpson and Anne Gilmore, who are currently suing the university. They allege that CU officials helped foster an environment conducive to sexual assault.
“My understanding is that (the report) contains information that would be very helpful to us,” Kerr said, adding that the case would otherwise proceed on as planned.
Kerr said a judge in the 10th Circuit Appeals Court will hear oral arguments from both sides in the lawsuit sometime early next year.
CU’s response to the appelate’s opening brief is due in several weeks.
In February of last year, KUSA-TV received a leaked copy of the grand jury report. Reporter Paula Woodward said the grand jury said three out of 12 football players who testified said CU had used sex as a recruiting tool and that female trainers reported being “‘harassed, groped, mocked, ridiculed’. . This conduct was ‘widely known and tolerated by the players, the athletic department . and some coaches.'”
In order to successfully sue the university for violating Title IX statutes, the women would have to prove that the university acted with deliberate nonchalance towards their reports of sexual assault.
“CU was repeatedly informed it must reform football recruiting to safeguard women. But decisions were made by the athletic director and head football coach . those decisions directly led to the severe sexual harassment and assaults of (the women),” states the appellate motion filed by Simpson’s and Gilmore’s attorneys.
The motion states that Simpson and Gilmore were having a “girls’ night in” at Simpson’s apartment on Dec. 7, 2001, when a female friend at the apartment invited about 20 drunken football players and recruits. After Simpson went to bed, she awoke to men taking off her clothes who allegedly began to orally and vaginally rape her. Three other men allegedly sexually assaulted and harassed Gilmore in another room.
Since then, at least nine women have come forward as victims of sexual assault by football players. The allegations led to massive reorganization of the CU football program and a major overhaul of the CU administration, with resignations of President Betsy Hoffman, Chancellor Richard Byyny, Head Coach Gary Barnett and Athletic Director Dick Tharpe.