Salazar Appointed Special Prosecutor in CU Case

Colorado Governor <b>Bill Owens</b> appointed state Attorney General <b>Ken Salazar</b> as special prosecutor in charge of spearheading a state-wide inquiry to "investigate and potentially prosecute" any allegations of sexual assault or abuse within the University of Colorado athletic program in a press conference Friday afternoon.

The investigation will have the authority to look into all other accusations which have been made against the University in the month since its football program became immersed in national controversy, including the misuse of funds.

Salazar and his staff will have the authority to exercise state-wide power of subpoena, a requirement to the investigation Owens labeled as "necessary" during the announcement at the State Capitol Friday afternoon.

Declaring he wanted an investigation with "no spin, no whitewash and no excuses," Owens turned all state-regulated investigative power over to Salazar, a fifth generation Coloradan from the San Luis Valley.

The Governor closed his remarks by assuring the public that his decision was met by support from the University of Colorado, and seemed confident that the worst of the state's flagship school was already behind it.

Earlier, unnamed sources from one of the two offices told BuffCountry that the two men had planned the news conference to "announce significant steps being taken regarding the situation" at the University of Colorado.

Friday afternoon's press conference came just hours after KUSA-TV uncovered a student video made in 2001 which shows Colorado football players saying their coaches encouraged them to cultivate relationships with police for special treatment.

The videotaped interviews were conducted by then-journalism student Billi Hazle for a class project.

"It's all about who you know. I think that's what coach (Gary) Barnett is trying to come to,"' former player Brandon Drumm says in the interview, which aired Thursday night.

Another former player, Jake Jones, explained that players tried to get to know officers by going on "ride-alongs" with them in case they ran into them later.

"If we get in an argument or something, the cop will come, he might believe you more, give you a break, cause like, he'll believe you, he's met you before," Jones said on the tape.

The office of athletic director Dick Tharp denied the accusations on Friday morning.

"I can't explain to you why those statements were made or what context they would have been in, but I'm confident our coaches never convey the impression you're going to get special treatment," Tharp said.

The Boulder police department denies that participating in ride-alongs would result in a CU student-athlete, or anyone, receiving special privileges at a later date.

CU was first immersed into scandal a month ago when details surfaced in federal lawsuits filed against the university by three women who say they were raped by football players or recruits at or just after a 2001 off-campus party. The women say the school fostered an environment so hostile it contributed to their assault.

The activity at CU first came to Owens' attention when attorneys representing the women in the federal suits released a deposition by Boulder prosecutor Mary Keenan in which she said the school used women and alcohol to lure recruits.

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