Scandal Returns To University Of Colorado Football Allegations five years ago that the University of Colorado was using sex and alcohol to attract recruits for its football team launched a series of reforms at the school. But no action was taken on allegations that several players had raped young women. That may be about to change.
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Scandal Returns To University Of Colorado Football

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Scandal Returns To University Of Colorado Football

Scandal Returns To University Of Colorado Football

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Our next story may not be suitable for young ears, so you may want to shield them now. Two former University of Colorado football players - one now in the NFL - could face rape charges soon. The allegations date back to a 2004 recruiting scandal. A local district attorney said the university was using alcohol and sex to lure high school athletes to play for the team.

Since then, Colorado reformed its recruiting program and, at the time, no charges were brought against several athletes accused of rape. That, as NPR's Jeff Brady reports, may be about to change.

JEFF BRADY: Nine years ago, almost exactly, Julie Stene was graduating from high school. She says she went to a party, got very drunk, blacked out and at three in the morning woke up in her car…

Ms. JULIE STENE: In only a T-shirt with mud on myself and in a lot of pain, and I knew that I had been sexually assaulted.

BRADY: Stene went to the police, who took her to a hospital for tests. DNA from two people was collected from Stene. One matched classmate Clyde Surrell, who told police they had consensual sex. At first, Stene was prepared to help prosecutors, but then her father became terminally ill. She was depressed and dropped out of the case. Then in 2004, the scandal at the University of Colorado was making headlines. Stene knew Surrell was a player there.

Ms. STENE: And I thought, oh god, if he's involved in this, I'm going to feel really, really bad because I could have pressed charges against him and maybe this wouldn't have happened.

BRADY: Stene decided she was strong enough to go ahead with the case at that point, but according to court documents, the prosecutor refused to file charges, saying she didn't want to appear to be piling on the University of Colorado bandwagon. Stene's own lawyer then filed a rare civil suit to compel prosecution, and the judge has ordered just that.

Ms. STENE: I felt so alone for nine years and now I finally feel like I have people behind me. So, you have no idea what that feels like. It's very empowering.

BRADY: NPR couldn't reach Clyde Surrell for this story. Phone numbers connected to his name were disconnected and lawyers who represented him in the past say they've had no contact with him. But in 2007, he talked with Denver television station KUSA.

Mr. CLYDE SURRELL: If I've ever heard a girl say stop, I'm done. I'm out of there. I do not want to get involved. I've just been like that. And like I told you before, I'm not the aggressive type.

BRADY: Julie Stene says another former classmate also raped her that night. Riley McMurdo says he's innocent. His attorney, Iris Eaton, says she may challenge the judge's decision to compel the prosecutor to file charges.

Ms. IRIS EATON (Attorney): You have a situation where a career prosecutor made the decision not once, but she made it three times not to file this case. She said there's no case.

BRADY: Eaton says her client didn't even know the case was being brought back up until a reporter called him. And the judge's order that has revived this case, a completely separate case is mentioned involving another woman, Monique Gillespie. She says she was raped by Clyde Surrell and another football player in December of 2001. Gillespie says that other player is Marques Harris, who is now a professional football player with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Boulder County District Attorney's Office says it's reviewing those allegations to determine if charges are warranted. Attorney Lou Rubino is representing Harris and says it's a shame this issue has resurfaced.

Mr. LOU RUBINO (Attorney): What's the expression, old wine in new bottles?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RUBINO: It's just a dead issue. It should be a dead issue. It's been hashed and rehashed. And, again, Marques Harris did nothing wrong.

BRADY: Rubino says Harris passed a polygraph test and submitted DNA samples back in 2001. He suspects prosecutors will conclude again that there's not enough evidence.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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