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Second plaintiff in U. Colorado Title IX lawsuit ready to move on

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(U-WIRE) BOULDER, Colo. — She was the “other girl.”

The anonymous victim.

The one who wished not to be named in the lawsuit against CU alleging that the university fostered an environment that allowed two former students to be raped by football players at a recruitment party.

But Anne Gilmore, whose name was released Wednesday, was at the Dec. 7 party in 2001 along with Lisa Simpson, her attorney Peggy Jessel said. There is a closure Gilmore is getting beyond the money awarded to her and Simpson as part of the Title IX lawsuit settlement.

“The one thing that is really important to Anne that you can’t put a dollar amount on is a new diploma signed by Hank Brown,” Jessel said. “And Hank Brown is a very good man and a very understanding man, and he has agreed to award her a new diploma.”

Gilmore, who joined Simpson in the lawsuit in 2003 after giving evidence for the case, is ready to move on, Jessel said, and her new diploma to replace the one she has signed by former President Elizabeth Hoffman will be an important step.

Hoffman was one of several university administrators including Chancellor Richard Byyny, Athletic Director Richard Tharp and football Coach Gary Barnett who were involved with the case and have since left the school.

CU settled the lawsuit for $2.85 million, $2.5 million to Simpson and $350,000 to Gilmore, after a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals breathed new life into the case in September by reversing a lower court’s decision to dismiss it, ruling that the university had failed to supervise its athletes. The two women filed the suit under Title IX, which bars publicly funded universities from discrimination based on sex.

“We were still in high gear, so to speak, after the reversal, and breathing sighs of relief,” Jessel said. “But there was also a sense that it could go on for years. Honestly, I never anticipated a settlement. I’m still surprised.”

The university’s attorneys had argued that a school must know about and ignore cases of sexual assault and harassment before the school can be held accountable. However, the appeal rewrote the laws, and the impending trial would have cost the university millions of dollars, CU President Hank Brown said.

Brown said a settlement was helpful to “get on with our lives” so the university could focus on education.

Brown said that the settlement is not an admission of liability, but the school will hire a Title IX adviser to hold the office for five years and oversee cases of sexual assault and Title IX compliance.

Jessel said she could not comment on the terms of the settlement because another attorney handled the negotiations but said the settlement came just two days from the six-year anniversary of the events that began the lawsuit.

“I can say unequivocally that this has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone involved,” Jessel said. “Anne wants to feel proud of the school she went to, and that signature of Hank Brown on her new diploma is a signature of that change.”

By Cassie Hewlings
Campus Press (U. Colorado)