Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of sexual violence. On-campus resources for survivors of traumatic incidents are available through the Office of Victim Assistance and the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. Moving to End Sexual Assault provides resources for survivors in the broader Boulder area.
Editor’s note, March 10: A spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office clarified comments relating to the office’s investigation involving Roberson for the sexual exploitation of a child. While the offense date took place in October 2018, the case was opened on Feb. 23 of this year. The sheriff’s office also has a separate closed case involving Roberson dating to 2019.
On Jan. 14, a University of Colorado Boulder student emailed the Office of the Dean of Students about sexual assault allegations against a newly enrolled football player.
In the email, the student alleged Anthony “Deuce” Roberson II, a wide receiver who committed to the university in December 2022, raped another student during their time at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colorado.
“I have reason to believe he could be a potential threat to the safety of other Boulder students, especially regarding women,” she wrote.
Roberson’s history of alleged sexual misconduct goes back almost half a decade, and he is under active investigation by law enforcement in El Paso County for the sexual exploitation of a child, according to a spokesperson for the county sheriff’s office. He has been accused of sexual harassment as recently as September 2022, and at least 14 women allege that he sexually assaulted, raped or harassed them during his high school years.
Roberson declined an initial request for comment and did not respond to further inquiries.
A source familiar with the university’s football team said Roberson met with officials from the athletic department’s compliance office days after a CU Boulder freshman published a petition calling for his expulsion. The office is responsible for ensuring student-athletes adhere to NCAA, Pac-12 and university rules.
In an email statement, Steve Hurlbert, the director of communications for the university, said Roberson has been “away” from the team since Feb. 23.
“While we cannot discuss specific cases due to privacy laws, we take all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and those found responsible are held accountable,” Hurlbert said.
A video posted on Twitter showed newly hired Head Coach Deion Sanders speaking to players about his expectations regarding abuse on Jan. 18, a week before the petition was published.
“If there’s any dysfunction…with your girlfriend, fiancee, whoever, with any abuse, that’s it. It’s over,” Sanders said in the video.
Roberson is currently listed on the university’s spring roster.
Criminal investigation into the sexual exploitation of children
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO), which has jurisdiction in the Colorado Springs area, opened a case associated with Roberson for the “sexual exploitation of a child” and “internet sexual exploitation of a child.” The offense date was October 2018.
The case opened in February 2023, according to Lieutenant Deborah Mynatt, EPSO’s public information officer. EPSO also investigated a separate case involving Roberson from 2019, which is now closed.
Mynatt said multiple victims are listed in the case records. Because the most recent investigation is still ongoing, the sheriff’s office did not provide records of the case to the CU Independent and The Bold.
Jenna Baker, a CU Boulder freshman, created the Change.org petition calling on the university to expel Roberson.
The petition, published on Jan. 25, alleges Roberson sexually assaulted, harassed or exploited a number of women over the course of at least four years. As of March 8, the petition had approximately 3,500 signatures.
Baker attended Palmer Ridge High School from 2018 to 2022 in Monument, just north of Colorado Springs, with Roberson and many of the women who say they were assaulted or harassed by him.
“The most important [reason for creating the petition] is to just give other people a platform to speak,” Baker said. “Because I knew there were really bad stories that needed to come out, and I knew it wasn’t going to come out unless someone did something.”
Assault allegations in high school
As a student at Palmer Ridge High School, Roberson played football from 2016 to 2020. Throughout his time at the school, 14 women who spoke with the CU Independent and The Bold said he sexually assaulted, raped or harassed them. At least two of these women said they spoke with school administrators about their allegations.
“Our policies outline expectations for student conduct, define violations and make clear the consequences of any violations,” wrote Mark Belcher, the director of communications for Palmer Ridge’s school district, Lewis-Palmer District 38. “To this point, we take all reports and allegations of student misconduct seriously, and all reports are investigated thoroughly.”
Leah Seabolt, a former family friend of Roberson and a former student at Palmer Ridge, alleges he sexually assaulted her once and sexually harassed her multiple times. The first incident of harassment dates back to 2017 when she was in eighth grade, and Roberson was a sophomore in high school.
When she was a freshman, Seabolt said Roberson forcefully kissed and groped her in her basement despite her repeatedly telling him no. He was staying at her house at the time, according to Seabolt.
Seabolt said Roberson told her they should kiss so that when he became a professional football player, she could brag about it.
Seabolt said she felt uncomfortable and frozen with fear.
“How is he turned on when I’m so scared?” she recalled thinking.
Eventually, Seabolt said, she went back to her room despite Roberson’s insistence that she stay in the basement with him.
“I went up to my room, I locked the door, and I just sobbed,” she said.
According to Seabolt, she was called into the school administrator’s office after the alleged assault was reported. There, she met with the vice principal and a law enforcement officer who recorded her account of what happened.
At the end of the meeting, Seabolt said the officials told her she could press charges against Roberson, but it would be her word against Roberson’s since it was only the two of them in the room.
She said her family decided not to move forward with charges to avoid a “years-long legal battle with Deuce’s family.”
Another former student at Palmer Ridge, Maddie Cusick, said Roberson raped her when she was a freshman in high school in 2018.
Cusick said she was at a friend’s house with Roberson, after a party, when he told her he would release nude photographs of her if Cusick didn’t have sex with him.
Afterward, Cusick alleges, Roberson got on top of her, held her hands above her head and proceeded to rape her.
“Girls are almost never believed in situations like this, so I decided to let it go instead of doing what was right and going to the police about it,” she told the CU Independent and The Bold in a written statement.
Multiple former Palmer Ridge students, in addition to Baker and Seabolt, said they heard about the alleged rape after it happened and that Cusick’s story was widely known throughout the school.
Cusick said police were notified about the incident through an anonymous Safe-2-Tell message.
“The cops then came to my house, and I denied everything because I did not want to relive [the rape], and my parents were sitting next to me,” Cusick said. “To this day, I wish I did something about it and he got what he deserved.”
Another woman, who asked to remain anonymous, alleges that Roberson raped her the summer before her sophomore year and Roberson’s junior year at Palmer Ridge in 2018.
According to the source, Roberson persistently asked her to hang out, to which she repeatedly said no. Despite being afraid, she said she eventually agreed to meet with him.
She said Roberson brought her to an empty parking lot near Monument Lake, where he forcefully kissed her.
“I felt like I didn’t have any control,” the woman said. “I stopped trying to fight it, and it got to the point where he coerced me into having sex.”
At the time, she only told one friend about the incident until months later when she said she realized the severity of what had happened. After that, she said she came forward to more people.
Jenna Baker and four other women who attended Palmer Ridge – Hailee Berry, Nayvee Ries, Zoe Gardiner and Ashleigh Murrow – said Roberson repeatedly pressured them for nude photos when they were in high school. Baker, a minor at the time, alleges Roberson was 18 when he solicited the photos from her.
Four additional people who spoke with the CU Independent and The Bold on the condition of anonymity said Roberson allegedly harassed or threatened them for nude photos during their time at the high school.
An allegation of harassment in junior college
According to his Twitter account, Roberson received Division I offers from the University of Northern Colorado, Tennessee Technology University, the United States Military Academy and other colleges during his senior year.
Instead, after graduating from Palmer Ridge in 2020, Roberson committed to Snow College, a junior college in Ephraim, Utah, and joined the football team.
In fall 2022, a student at Snow College said she pursued a no-contact order against Roberson for sexual harassment. She spoke to the CU Independent and The Bold on the condition of anonymity.
For about a month, she said, Roberson made persistent sexual comments and followed her out to her car after a class they shared.
“He kept saying it over and over again on more than one occasion: ‘I’m going to turn you straight’ or ‘I know I could turn you straight,’” said the Snow College student, who identifies as a gay woman.
The student said she felt threatened after Roberson’s comments escalated and decided to speak with school officials.
“Seeing him and knowing he was going to follow me after class or have something to say, it just gave me anxiety every single day that I had that class,” she said. “I just dreaded it.”
According to the student, she reported Roberson’s comments and conduct to the deputy Title IX coordinator at Snow College, Travis Walker, in late September. She decided not to proceed with a formal investigation, instead opting for a no-contact order. The order is labeled as an informal resolution agreement.
A copy of the no-contact order provided to the CU Independent and The Bold states Roberson and the student couldn’t contact each other in person or online and required they “maintain as much physical distance as possible” during the 2022 to 2023 academic year.
According to Snow College’s website, a no-contact order can be considered non-disciplinary and can be issued without finding an official violation, meaning it didn’t need to be disclosed to CU Boulder administrators when Roberson transferred schools in December 2022.
Acceptance to CU Boulder
CU Boulder officials were notified of some of the sexual misconduct allegations against Roberson in mid-January, according to emails sent to the university by Baker and the student who messaged the dean’s office on Jan. 14.
About 10 days after that student sent her initial email, an OIEC representative told her the office could not investigate incidents that occurred before a current student became affiliated with CU Boulder.
Baker received a similar response from OIEC.
“Due to the severity of these concerns and the allegations of conduct involving minors, my office is reporting this information to the University of Colorado Police Department (CUPD) for their evaluation and potential referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency,” wrote a senior OIEC investigator in an email to Baker.
Under Colorado law, the university cannot ask applicants about their disciplinary or criminal records before they’re admitted except for specific criminal convictions, outstanding charges or disciplinary history related to crimes like sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence.
The university’s Conduct Review Committee (CRC) oversees the process of reviewing disciplinary and criminal history when new students, including student-athletes, are admitted to CU Boulder. Since no formal charges have been filed, it was not legally required for the information to be disclosed during the review process.
Additionally, the Snow College no-contact order would likely not have to be reported because it was considered non-disciplinary.
“There is an important due process element here…an allegation is one thing, but an ultimate final determination is another,” said Matthew Haltzman, a Fort Collins-based attorney who has represented Title IX cases involving CU Boulder.
Janine D’Anniballe, the director of the Boulder County sexual violence resource center Moving to End Sexual Assault, believes the university puts itself at risk for increases in sexual violence when students with sexual misconduct allegations remain on campus.
“By admitting and making an offer to a person like this, with this many allegations, what that is doing is endorsing rape culture,” D’Anniballe said.
As for Seabolt, she doesn’t like talking about the alleged assault, but she ultimately decided to speak out publicly to help other women.
“This is not about me,” Seabolt said. “This is about the safety of every single girl that he comes into contact with. I don’t want anything that happened to me to happen again.”
Multiple sources for this story requested anonymity out of concern for their personal safety and well-being.
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