Historic Settlement Reached in Sexual Harassment Case
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Contact: Jenice Robinson or Ranit Schmelzer, 202-588-5180, www.nwlc.org
HISTORIC SETTLEMENT REACHED IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE
University of Colorado Settles Title IXCase for $2.5 Million, Agrees to Significantly Improve Efforts to Address and Prevent Sexual Harassment
( Washington, D.C.) Ending a protracted legal battle, the University of Colorado today settled with plaintiffs in a Title IX suit that accused the university of deliberate indifference to sexual harassment and assault by football players and recruits.
The settlement comes three months after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for trial. Under the terms of the settlement, the university will pay Lisa Simpson $2.5 million, hire a new counselor for the Office of Victim's Assistance, and appoint an independent, outside Title IX advisor. The advisor will be available to all individuals reporting sexual harassment or assault, will address any concerns with the University's response to complaints, will review issues relating to sexual harassment and Title IX compliance, and will make recommendations to the university regarding reforms to university programs to prevent future sexual harassment.
"Not only does this settlement provide long-overdue justice for Ms. Simpson, it also puts additional systems in place to prevent and address sexual harassment at the University of Colorado," said Marcia Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women's Law Center, which is part of the legal team that represented Ms. Simpson. "Because of Ms. Simpson's courageous persistence, the University of Colorado will be a better and safer place for young women."
Ms. Simpson in 2002 filed a complaint against the University of Colorado alleging that she was raped at a football recruiting party in December 2001. Baine Kerr, Kimberly Hult and Chris Ford from the Boulder, Colorado, law firm of Hutchinson Black and Cook served as lead counsel in this case, which charged that the university has been aware for years of many incidents of sexual harassment in its football program. The NWLC acted as of counsel in the case.
The case was temporarily stalled in March 2005 when the district court incorrectly ruled in favor of the university and dismissed the case, denying the plaintiffs the chance to present their evidence to a jury. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2007 reversed the district court's decision, ruling that the plaintiffs deserved their day in court. The settlement announced today ends this five-year legal battle.
Under Title IX, institutions must take steps to prevent harassment and must act promptly and effectively when harassment does occur, including by investigating the complaint and taking steps to end the harassing conduct.
"We urge all schools to take note of this settlement and fully meet their responsibility to provide a safe environment for all students," Greenberger said.
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Maria Patrick, mpatrick [at] nwlc.org
National Women's Law Center