Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar said Tuesday he will not bring any sexual assault charges in any of the nine criminal complaints involving members of the University of Colorado football program but will continue to investigate charges that high school football stars were offered alcohol, drugs and sex as inducements to play for the Buffaloes.
Salazar said he investigated nine cases in which Colorado football players or recruits had been accused of rape of university students or employees. In some cases, the Attorney General said, there was not enough evidence to support a criminal charge. In others, "the expressed wishes of some victims not to be subjected to the criminal justice process" led him to forego prosecution.
This week is expected to bring further news that will have a significant effect on the future of Coach Gary Barnett, who has been suspended from his job. A special investigator hired by university president Elizabeth Hoffman is to report on the overall athletic situation at Colorado and the level of control coaches maintained over recruiting activities. Then on Friday, a special commission appointed by the school's board of regents is to present a wide-ranging report on the football recruiting scandal.
Barnett has insisted he was not responsible for the conduct of high school athletes during campus visits. He said he appointed team members to serve as "hosts" for recruits, and "these hosts have the responsibility."
University administrators say they will decide by the end of the month whether to return Barnett to his coaching job.
Three former CU undergraduates have sued the university, saying they were victims of gang rape by football players and high school players after a recruiting party in 2001. Barnett concedes that there was "group sex" at the party, but he says every case was consensual sex.
The various investigations have found that Colorado recruits were routinely entertained by strippers at university-sponsored parties. Athletic department employees have testified that Barnett said such activities were necessary to make Colorado competitive in recruiting. Barnett denies saying such things.
The scandal at Colorado's leading public university has also turned into a political struggle, with Republican Gov. Bill Owens publicly scolding Hoffman, the university president, for her handling of the situation.
Amid the back-and-forth between the campus and the governor's office, Owens appointed Salazar to act as "special prosecutor" reviewing the criminal implications.