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Lawsuit alleging assault by Colorado players, recruits settled

DENVER -- The University of Colorado has agreed to pay $2.85
million to settle a lawsuit by two women who claimed they were
gang-raped at an off-campus party for football recruits.

The settlement, announced Wednesday, may finally end a painful
six-year saga that sparked a football recruiting scandal, prompted
broad university reforms and led to a shake-up of the school's top
leaders.

University spokesman Ken McConnellogue said one of the women,
Lisa Simpson, will receive $2.5 million. The other woman, who did
not wish be identified publicly, will receive $350,000.

The Associated Press does not identify the victims of alleged
sexual assault without their permission.

University President Hank Brown said agreeing to the settlement
was "a difficult decision, painful in some ways, but it's my sense
that it was in the interest of the university."

He said CU faced years of litigation over the case, and fees for
outside attorneys had already reached $3 million.

A message left for Simpson's attorney, Baine Kerr, was not
immediately returned. Simpson met with Brown at his office
Wednesday but was not made available for comment.

In a statement released through the school, Simpson said she was
pleased with steps the school has taken.

"I encourage other institutions of higher education throughout
the nation to take similar steps," she said.

Janine D'Anniballe, director of Boulder's rape crisis center,
said Simpson fought hard to make CU change.

"She wanted change in the university. I think that's what she
got. Even more important than money is change," she said.

The school also agreed to hire an adviser to monitor compliance
with Title IX and add a position in the office of Victim
Assistance.

The women's lawsuit alleged CU violated federal law by fostering
an environment that allowed sexual assaults to occur. The suit
accused the university of failing to adequately supervise players
when the women were raped in 2001.

A U.S. district judge dismissed it in 2005, saying the women
produced no evidence that the school acted with "deliberate
indifference."

In September, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived the
lawsuit, saying there was evidence the university had an official
policy of showing high school recruits a "good time" and had
shown deliberate indifference. The appeals judges sent the lawsuit
back to district court.

CU has insisted its policies do not place female students at
risk and said it has become a leader in policies to prevent sexual
assault and harassment.

The settlement was announced nearly six years to the day after
the Dec. 7, 2001 party attended by CU football players and
recruits.

No sexual assault charges were filed as a result of the women's
complaints. A grand jury investigation resulted in a single
indictment against a former football recruiting aide for soliciting
a prostitute and misusing a school cell phone.

A separate inquiry, backed by the university's governing Board
of Regents, concluded that drugs, alcohol and sex were used to
entice blue chip recruits to the Boulder campus but said none of
the activity was knowingly sanctioned by university officials.

The school responded by overhauling oversight of the athletics
department and putting some of the most stringent policies in place
for any football recruiting program.

The fallout included the resignations of CU System President
Betsy Hoffman and Athletic Director Dick Tharp.

The football team's head coach at the time, Gary Barnett,
survived the scandal, but later accepted a buyout after a 70-3 loss
to Texas in the 2005 Big 12 championship game.