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University reaches sex-assault settlement

Two women will get $2.85 million from a lawsuit involving Colo. school's football team.

DENVER - The University of Colorado has agreed to pay two women $2.85 million to settle a lawsuit alleging they were sexually assaulted by football players and recruits, school officials said yesterday.

The allegations had sparked a football recruiting scandal at the school, prompted broad university reforms, and led to a shake-up of its top leaders.

University spokesman Ken McConnellogue said the school also agreed to hire an adviser to monitor compliance with federal laws governing equal treatment of women and add a position in the university's Office of Victim Assistance.

The agreement came two months after an appellate court revived the lawsuit.

Hank Brown, the university president, said agreeing to the settlement was "a difficult decision, painful in some ways, but it's my sense that it was in the interest of the university."

He said the school faced years of litigation over the case, and fees for outside attorneys had already reached $3 million.

One of the women, Lisa Simpson, will receive $2.5 million, McConnellogue said. The other woman, who did not wish be identified publicly, will receive $350,000. The school did not admit fault or liability.

The women said they were raped by football players and recruits at an off-campus party on Dec. 7, 2001. Their lawsuit alleged the university violated federal law by fostering an environment that allowed sexual assaults to occur.

A message left for Simpson's attorney, Baine Kerr, was not immediately returned. Simpson met with Brown at his office Wednesday but was not made available for comment.

In a statement released through the school, Simpson said she was pleased with steps the school has taken. "I encourage other institutions of higher education throughout the nation to take similar steps," she said.