A “Good Time” Assured in College Football Recruitment – The Colorado U. Gang Rape Case

In 2001 football recruits visited the University of Connecticut-Boulder for a weekend, and they were promised a “good time”. Later that night two female students, whom they had been partying with earlier, were gang raped in their beds by several of the athletes. The circuits judges ruled that

CU had an official policy of showing high school football recruits a ‘good time’ on their visits to the campus.” The university failed to provide adequate supervision to the recruits.

“The likelihood of such misconduct was so obvious that CU’s failure was the result of deliberate indifference,” the judges wrote in their ruling.[Em. mine]

Without enough evidence to convict the boys, the victims, Lisa Simpson and Anne Gilmore filed a case to sue the University for fostering and turning a blind eye to the environment that led to their rape.

Tenth Circuit Judge Harris Hartz wrote that leading up to the alleged assaults of the plaintiffs, there were a variety of sources suggesting the risks that sexual assault would occur if recruiting was “inadequately supervised” — citing the assault of a high-school girl at a party in 1997 and a meeting with the district attorney.

“Yet CU did little to change its policies or training following that meeting,” the judge wrote. “In particular, player-hosts were not instructed on the limits of appropriate entertainment.”

In fact, the administration claimed that without the lure of a “good time”, they would be at a recruiting disadvantage. The “good time” being parties with alcohol and plenty of cute, “willing” girls, none of whom are aware that their voluntary presence at a party is actually part of an explicit promise to the athletes. These
young boys are being courted by the athletic department and are in the midst of a look-at-all-we-can-do-for-you weekend. The implications of this are obvious.

Yet, in 2005 federal district court Judge Robert Blackburn wrongfully dismissed the lawsuit, according to Simpson’s lawyer Baine Kerr, finding that the administration had no reason to suspect the likelihood of misconduct, despite repeated charges of sexual assault against the football club that spanned the last decade.

In September an appeals court reexamined Title IX, the 1972 statute that held federally-funded schools responsible for instances of gender discrimination in school-sponsored activities or events. Broadening its application, the court reversed Blackburn’s 2005 ruling citing evidence

that the university athletic department sanctioned recruiting programs that had been proven to lead to sexual abuses and that it never developed guidelines and training for student athletes to prevent such abuse.

Jocelyn Samuels of the National Women’s Law Center feels that holding the institution itself culpable for digressions like these will lead to a safer college environment for young women.

By describing evidence of abuse and itemizing ways the university continued to ignore it, the court in essence spells out for all schools how they will be held accountable under Title IX prohibitions of sex discrimination in education.

Earlier this month CU appealed the ruling on grounds of unreasonable liability.

As with most University sports team rape cases, this one seems to have polarized the community. One side cries out in outrage for the suffering of the women and the other throws their hands up in disgust at the (mostly) innocent yet vilified players who suffer from “trumped up” charges of two greedy women and their attorney.

Bruce Plaskett was so moved by the injustice of the case that he wrote a book entitled “Buffaloed: How Race, Gender, and Media Bias fueled a Season of Scandal.” According to its product description on Amazon, the book tells the tale of “media ran amok with unsubstantiated allegations” by failing to “report the innocent football players both black and white.” From what I’ve been able to find, one of the men originally accused was later found innocent. The story in the book “is one of bigotry and self-serving public officials whose agendas ruined the reputations of dozens of people associated with CU’s football program.”

Kerr wrote a letter to Plaskett’s publisher Prentice-Hill suggesting they fact-check about a dozen different points in the book. Shortly thereafter Prentice-Hill canceled publication. Of course suspicions linger, such as on the conspiracy website Volokh Conspiracy, of…well a conspiracy whereby the book was silenced by “the man” for the ill-specified reasons of money, power, fame.

Most of the contention pops up in comment boards and this is what I found most disturbing. Contentious posts often dealt with the women’s drunkenness, the fact the party was at Simpson’s home, that Simpson drove her car hours after the rape, and remained silent about the rape for more than a year. Anything, it seems, to find reasons why she would be making this up. No good reason as to why she and Gilmore would fabricate this so long after the fact, but the assumption that they directly benefit from the suffering of the innocent athletes is clear in every negative post.

For example, on a CU News site article about the case. Especially this from “Odog”

...let me ask you. When a girl doesn’t say NO, verbally or physically- but she is simply too drunk to consent- how is it reasonable for a drunk male to walk away?

And on another board “Olonkun” says

This is exactly the kind of garbage that perpetuates the ‘nanny state’ mentality and results in increasingly more intrusions on civil liberties. Idiot judge.

And the evidence suggests it’s all because some ditzy unattractive drunk chick regreted some choices she made the morning after and needed to project the blame on to others to protect her dillusion of purityh. Oh, and because she saw the chance to cash in. (Spelling orig.)

On this board “Connie” gives a female perspective:

Good Grief. I was a college student once and I knew better than to party with jocks – be they current CU students or potential students. If my roommates had brought such folks into the house – I would have found someplace else to stay for the night.

Yes, it was her home, but sometimes you’ve got to take responsibility for yourself. Getting drunk with a bunch of jocks, be they under aged or not, is just asking for the kind of trouble she found.

“Just asking for (it).” I’m too sickened to go on. Check it out yourself, if you have the stomach.


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