Panel Told of 'Rape Culture' at U. of Colorado

An advocate for sex assault victims told a panel investigating recruiting at the University of Colorado (searchthat a "rape culture" exists in the school's sports programs.

Kathy Redmond, founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes (search), said athletes have a sense of entitlement toward women at CU. She said she has worked with alleged victims of CU athletes.

"Players are taught that women are objects, commodities, and that if you come to this school, you get women, you get sex," said Redmond, who received a $50,000 settlement from the University of Nebraska (searchafter she accused a football player of rape in 1991. The player was never charged.

The panel, appointed by the Board of Regents, is investigating allegations that sex and alcohol are used to entice football recruits to the Boulder campus.

At least eight women since 1997 have accused football players of rape, though no charges have been filed. The state attorney general is heading a separate investigation to see whether criminal charges are warranted.

After the session, Regent Peter Steinhauer said CU President Elizabeth Hoffman and Chancellor Richard Byyny were handling the problems appropriately.

"To say they've ignored this because of the athletic department is absurd," he said. "Times of crisis don't create great leaders, they reveal them, and this is exactly what happened in President Hoffman's case."

Suspended football coach Gary Barnett, who shook his head at times while Redmond spoke, said afterward he didn't want to respond to specific allegations.

Barnett, who will address the panel Tuesday, is on paid leave for remarks he made in connection to two of the allegations, including disparaging the athletic ability of a former player who said she was raped by a teammate.

Steve Lower, president of a Denver striptease company, Hardbodies Entertainment (search), also testified Monday. He said CU players hire strippers from his company for recruiting parties once or twice a year, but the university has never paid.

"Whether the coaching staff turns their back on it or they don't, they honestly don't have anything to do with these parties," he said.