DENVER -- The state's top prosecutor said Wednesday he would
consider reopening a criminal investigation into the University of
Colorado's sex-and-alcohol recruiting scandal if he finds any new
evidence that would hold up in court.
"If at any point in time we felt there was evidence of criminal
wrongdoing in regards to any of those issues involving sex assault
or anything like that, I would not hesitate to (ask Gov. Bill
Owens) for the authority to prosecute cases of that nature,"
Attorney General John Suthers said.
He and Owens met privately Wednesday afternoon to discuss a
grand jury report that says CU's athletics department kept a
"slush fund" and that two female trainers said they were sexually
assaulted by an assistant football coach.
The report, officially still secret, was completed last year but
leaked to the media this week. The grand jury had investigated
allegations that the university used sex, drugs and alcohol to
recruit top athletes and that nine women were sexually assaulted by
athletes or recruits.
The panel indicted only one person, a low-level university
employee on charges of soliciting a prostitute and misusing a
school telephone. When details of the report were leaked,
questions were raised about why none of the other allegations
resulted in criminal charges.
Suthers, in office for only a month, refused to say whether he
is actively reviewing last year's investigation or whether he would
second-guess his predecessor, Ken Salazar, who oversaw that
Suthers was named attorney general after Salazar was elected to
the U.S. Senate.
Owens and Suthers spoke briefly with reporters after emerging
from their private meeting in Owens' office.
Suthers said he would wait until state officials finish an audit
of the university before deciding whether to investigate the
university's finances. He said any inquiry into the university's
books would be separate from a criminal investigation of the other
Suthers said there was no deadline to complete the audit.
Owens, who has been critical of the university, called for more
openness, particularly in transactions between the school and its
independent fund-raising arm, the University of Colorado
"Restoring the good name of a great university is job one for
all of Colorado's leaders," he said.
Karen Salaz, a spokeswoman for the state court system, said an
investigation into numerous leaks of the grand jury's report is
under way. She did not elaborate.
CU president Elizabeth Hoffman acknowledged the university has
had rough sledding since the recruiting scandal erupted 13 months
ago, but she called on Owens and lawmakers to help improve the
"Those critical of the university must join with us to help
identify other ways the university can get on with its mission to
provide the best educational environment possible," Hoffman said
at a press conference at the capitol.
Meanwhile, the Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a
bill Wednesday requiring the CU Foundation to disclose more of its
financials after lawmakers promised that donors would be protected.
It still faces a vote in the full Senate. A version has already
passed the House.
The foundation has argued that its records are not open to
public review. Owens and others have said that the books should be
open because the foundation's funds eventually end up in the hands
of a public institution. Critics have also questioned how some of
the money was spent.
In a fierce defense of the foundation, President Michael Byram
told the committee it has been a good steward of donations and has
done nothing wrong.
"Senators, it's time for the lies and innuendo, the
unsubstantiated allegations to stop," he said.
The foundation has assets of more than $760 million.
Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, said the bill will help the foundation
by clearing up questions about how the university spends funds the
He said the bill will ensure donors' privacy is protected.
Cindy Carlisle, a member of the university's governing Board of
Regents, disputed claims that CU and the foundation have been open
about how funds are spent.
She said she was "bullied and harassed" when she asked about
$8 million the university paid the foundation under a management
contract. She said still has not gotten answers.
"I wonder what's to hide. What is it that is not being
answered?" she asked.