Measures to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment:

CU student-athletes receive sexual assault and harassment awareness training in the new student orientation, through presentations, focused discussions, team-specific presentations and messages from coaches.

"CU Experience" is a one-credit, mandatory class for student-athletes that also addresses sexual assault and harassment issues.

Guest speakers -- at least once per season -- visit with the football team and discuss issues of sexual assault.

The university pledges to cooperate fully with criminal investigations.

A task force on student-athlete welfare formed in 2009 and involves campus leaders, the chief of police, CU victims' advocates, law enforcement and the district attorney. The panel discusses ways to reduce sexual assault and how to educate student-athletes about the law.

A sexual assault and sexual harassment task force was formed in 2004 to monitor the campus climate and women's safety issues.

CU hired a victims' advocate in 2008 and a director of student development and welfare.

CU hired a Title IX consultant in 2009.

Source: University of Colorado


Advertisement



University of Colorado leaders expressed disappointment Tuesday in the arrest of a former football player accused of sexual assault, especially given sweeping athletic department reforms following 2001 rape allegations that prompted a Title IX lawsuit.

Former CU linebacker Michael Sipili surrendered to Boulder police Tuesday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman at an off-campus apartment in December. A second football player also was involved in the assault, according to police, but hasn't been arrested.

Within three hours of Sipili's 10:30 a.m. arrest, CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn and Dean of Students Deb Coffin held a news conference highlighting the strides CU has made since the 2001 case, which spurred a national scandal and cost several university leaders their jobs.

Campus spokesman Bronson Hilliard said the school has "absorbed and embraced the lessons" from the scandal. School leaders say they are focused on maintaining a safe campus -- not fretting about liability.

"For us, the issue right now is not worrying about litigation," he said.

University leaders said campus reforms that help combat sexual assault and harassment include: mandatory training for student-athletes; routine guest speakers who address the topic of sexual assault; a partnership with the District Attorney's Office and law enforcement to educate athletes about laws; and the hiring of a Title IX adviser.

"This is a place that learned a valuable lesson," Hilliard said.

Bohn said the reforms have positioned CU as a national leader when it comes to creating a safe campus environment.

"We are extremely disappointed," he said of Sipili's arrest.

He said the university treated Sipili like any other CU student when it allowed him back on the campus and the football team following his conviction for punching another student in the face on University Hill in 2007.

Sipili pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in that case and was sentenced to four days on a Boulder County Jail work crew, 80 hours of community service and two years of probation. He was suspended from both the university and the football team in 2007, but he was reinstated to the roster in 2008.

A senior, Sipili played on the football team this fall, but his eligibility ended with the season in November.

Bohn said school leaders were "proud" of him because he had made progress academically and seemed to be improving.

"The University of Colorado -- and, I believe, higher education and education -- generally believes in second chances," he said. "We were very pleased with his progress and felt he was on the right track."

Even Ross Buchanan -- the Denver attorney who represented Sipili's victim in the 2007 assault case -- said he thought that the athlete was remorseful and deserving of a second chance.

"He came to understand that it had been a maturing influence on his life," Buchanan said. "I know a lot of people are disappointed, including myself. He's innocent until proven guilty, but certainly the allegations are extremely distressing."

Buchanan said it was difficult even to characterize Sipili as violent because he was soft-spoken, deeply spiritual, had a gentle demeanor and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement.

"He seemed sincere and genuinely felt bad about what happened," Buchanan said.

While the new allegations against Sipili have parallels to the 2001 sexual assault case, there are distinct differences. Players accused of sexual assault in the nearly decade-old case were entertaining high school football recruits, and the alleged rape victims accused CU of using sex and alcohol as recruiting tools.

Although criminal rape charges were never filed in the 2001 case, the women -- Lisa Simpson and Anne Gilmore -- sued CU, claiming school leaders supported a hostile campus environment that led to their sexual assaults.

In settling the lawsuit, the university agreed to pay Simpson $2.5 million and Gilmore $350,000 and agreed to make hires to improve the campus climate for women.

Baine Kerr, who represented Simpson in the Title IX lawsuit, declined to comment on Sipili's arrest.

Stipulations in the settlement required CU to add a part-time position to the Office of Victim's Assistance and contract with a Title IX adviser who consults with campus leaders on issues including gender discrimination and sexual assault.

In 2009, CU hired Nancy Hogshead-Makar -- an Olympic swimming champion and lawyer with expertise on gender equity -- to the Title IX post. CU also hired Davian Gagne for the victim's advocate position in 2008. Gagne has experience with the Moving to End Sexual Assault program in Boulder and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

The Title IX lawsuit led to massive fallout among CU's top leaders and athletic staff. The university president, Boulder campus chancellor, athletic director and football coach left their posts amid the controversy.

In the Sipili case, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said CU administrators had good communication with his office, and "the investigation proceeded unimpeded."

"As district attorney, I can state that they've been very proactive and gone to great lengths to address these issues, and we appreciate it," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.