University of Colorado Rape Lawsuit Reinstated

A lawsuit alleging that University of Colorado (CU) football players and recruits gang-raped two women in 2001 was reinstated by a federal appeals court Thursday. Brought under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the suit alleges that CU officials failed to respond adequately to a long history of sexual harassment and assault by school football players and were therefore liable for fostering an environment that led to the rapes.

In 2005, a Colorado district court dismissed the suit on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the school had acted with “deliberate indifference” to repeated acts of sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by its athletes. The appeals court disagreed, ruling (PDF) that there was credible evidence that CU officials knew of multiple prior incidents of sexual assault, that they had “an official policy of showing high-school football recruits a ‘good time,'” and that they had failed to provide enough supervision and guidance to make sure misconduct would not occur.

“This is going to go down as a historic decision that’s going to change the way athletic departments are run,” Baine Kerr, the women’s attorney, told the Denver Post. “They will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to what’s going on in their athletic departments.”

Numerous civil rights organizations, women’s law groups, and women’s studies faculty joined the case as amicus curiae. The case will now go back to the district court for jury trial.

LEARN MORE Read about the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Education Equality Program for more information on Title IX and sex discrimination in education.


Decision of United States Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit filed 9/6/07; Rocky Mountain News 9/8/07; The Denver Post 9/7/07; Associated Press 9/7/07

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