One woman drops sexual assault lawsuit against University of Colorado

Monday, December 13th 2004, 7:44 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ A former University of Colorado soccer player dropped her federal lawsuit against the school Monday, saying she could no longer endure the legal ``guerrilla warfare'' in a case at the heart of the sex-and-recruiting scandal surrounding the football team.

Monique Gillaspie, 21, filed the suit in January, accusing the athletic department of retaliating against her after she talked to police about a 2001 off-campus football recruiting party where two other women say they were raped.

She said she was sexually assaulted by two football players after the party but did not report it because she feared the players and thought it would worsen her problems at school. Gillaspie, who at the time was the only black player on the team, also claimed the department ignored her complaints of racial discrimination by her coach and teammates.

``I want to make very clear that my decision to terminate this litigation should not be interpreted as a retraction of what I have identified as having happened to me and others while a student-athlete at CU,'' she said.

In an interview from her home in Long Beach, Calif., Gillaspie's mother, Susan Gillaspie, said the family stands behind the allegations, but believed the university's attorneys were engaging in personal attacks. No school official ever contacted the family about the allegations, she said.

``Compensation was never an issue,'' she said. ``They have a program that does not value diversity. They're only interested in one thing and that is their football program, their cash cow.''

Monique Gillaspie had been scheduled to give a deposition Monday.

University spokesman Ray Gomez said the university was prepared to go to trial.

``While we looked forward to our day in court, we are relieved that the defendant has chosen to walk away from this case without any compensation,'' he said.

He denied the Gillaspies' allegations of ``guerrilla warfare.''

``We have sought only to mount a vigorous and ethical defense against charges we believe to be baseless,'' he said.

Thomas Rice, an attorney for former athletic director Dick Tharp and women's soccer coach Bill Hempen, said Gillaspie agreed to dismiss the case with no concessions from any defendant and with the agreement she could not file it again.

``The simple truth is she's given up the case because it was groundless,'' Rice said.

Last summer, a grand jury, an independent commission and the university investigated the recruiting and sexual abuse allegations. No sexual assault charges were filed.

Gillaspie said she gave police details about the off-campus party where Lisa Simpson and the third woman say they were raped by football athletes. Simpson and Gillaspie have agreed to allow their names to be published; Simpson has consolidated her lawsuit with the other alleged victim. Their case is scheduled to go to trial May 31. Gillaspie said she would testify.

Simpson spokeswoman Lisa Simon said Gillaspie's decision would have no effect on the remaining case.

``Monique Gillaspie has demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage and strength, and she'll continue to do so when she testifies this spring and tells her story,'' Simon said.