Originally created 06/12/04

Colorado players appear before grand jury



DENVER -- Colorado football players testified in front of a statewide grand jury Friday, the second time a grand jury has convened to hear testimony related to the school's recruiting scandal.

Offensive lineman Del Scales was among the players who appeared before the grand jury. He refused to discuss his testimony but said he hasn't seen anything he would consider improper or illegal during his time at Colorado.

"Maybe, hopefully, I helped the team," said Scales, who announced this week he was leaving Colorado to be closer to his home in suburban Dallas.

Asked if the scandal has upset the team, Scales answered: "If anything, the scandal has brought the team together. I hope this will all pass by and we can get back to football."

The grand jury investigation is the first indication criminal charges may be filed in a scandal that has already led to sweeping changes in the football recruiting program. Legal experts have said they think investigators, led by the office of Attorney General Ken Salazar, are trying to figure out whether university funds were misused.

Salazar's office has declined to comment.

Among those testifying May 21 before the grand jury was Pasha Cowan, who has said Colorado recruiting aide Nathan Maxcey paid her former escort service $2,000 in cash.

Cowan is a former manager of the Best Variety escort service, which was allegedly hired to go to a hotel where football recruits are often housed during visits to the campus.

Her attorney, Mark Johnson, said she has told police and attorneys handling federal lawsuits against the school that Maxcey hired escorts for football athletes. Each call girl charged $250 per encounter, Johnson said.

Maxcey has repeatedly denied hiring escorts for players or recruits, saying any sexual liaisons were for him.

Salazar, at the governor's request, has been investigating whether criminal charges are warranted in the scandal, which includes allegations of sexual assault and questions about the use of university funds.

Salazar earlier decided against charges in nine alleged assaults by football players or recruits, citing evidentiary concerns and the reluctance of the women to go forward with the cases. The assault allegations date to at least 1997.

A Board of Regents investigative commission concluded that university officials did not condone any misconduct but repeatedly failed to properly oversee the athletics department. The commission, which lacked subpoena power, also urged the attorney general to look into the circumstances surrounding Maxcey, who was a football recruiting aide from June 2002 to July 2003.

According to the commission, three call girls from Best Variety said Maxcey paid them at least $2,000 in cash over a 45-day period "and arranged sex for other young men" at the Broomfield hotel.

Maxcey's duties included picking up recruits and checking them in at the hotel, the Omni Interlocken.

A recent university audit found Maxcey made nearly $1,200 worth of calls to an escort service and a chat line from his school-issued cell phone. He has repaid the university most of the money.

Still pending are federal lawsuits filed by three women who say they were raped by recruits or players at or just after an off-campus party in December 2001.

The lawsuits accuse Colorado of failing to protect the women under federal Title IX law, which guarantees equal access to an education. They seek unspecified damages.