CU FOOTBALL INVESTIGATION – 2/20/2004
To the Editor
The Rocky Mountain News
100 Gene Amole Way
Denver, CO 80204
To the Editor:
Somebody in the University of Colorado community needs to realize that, if the investigation of allegations of impropriety in the school’s athletic recruiting program is bungled, it very well could needlessly tarnish reputations as much as it could miss actual misconduct.
Real people are involved. They deserve a real investigation.
A substantial response already has focused on the fact that neither Peggy Lamm, a think tank director, nor Joyce Lawrence, a nurse, appointed to head the “investigative” committee, has even a modicum of investigative experience. All but one of the members of the committee have no apparent investigative experience, and the one who does, a former FBI agent, may have a conflict of interest and was asked to resign.
From my perspective as a former investigator for the Denver County and Jefferson County District Attorneys Offices and an investigator in private practice for the last 17 years, the problem runs much deeper than complaints of inexperience.
Without professional help at the ground level, such a committee simply will not have the experience necessary for the construction of an effective investigation to begin with. Given that likely point of failure, its ability to evaluate whatever information is gathered becomes meaningless.
The committee, itself, will have no inherent power. It’s authority will be limited to whatever aura is implied by the appointing authorities. It looks as though the committee will constitute little more than a buffer, a way for the university to duck and cover, while the initial and very public concern dissipates.
With the list of alleged rapes on the public record growing almost daily, we need more than a committee of upstanding and dedicated citizens at work here. Even if the committee hires an investigator, that investigator will need staff, resources, time, and the authority to, not just ask questions, but to get answers.
A case on point is the effort in Arapahoe County to oust County Clerk Tracy Baker. Members of the Board of Commissioners, initially appointed a well-intentioned but inexperienced committee to conduct an investigation of the allegations against Clerk Baker. When that effort concluded, some members of the board realized that a professional and impartial outside investigator was needed. Only then did the allegations lead to the exposure of policies and practices within the clerk’s office that now have led to a recall election and multiple sexual harassment claims.
Moreover, of clear concern in the CU matter is the possibility that the facts found by an effective, impartial outside investigation may suggest the possibility of criminal conduct on the part of university officials or employees, not just the assailants in the alleged rapes.
Serious questions about the committee and its mission remain unanswered. It’s hard to imagine that some type of final report will not be prepared, but, if there is a report, will that report be made public? Will it detail where the information in the report came from? Will that information be fully described or merely paraphrased? Will the report detail the means and methods as to how the investigation was conducted?
As any good investigator knows, the means and methods of an investigation don’t just explain the results… they also validate the results.
Lastly, the committee apparently has a deadline of April 30th. How can any deadline be set, when the scope and breadth of the investigation largely is unknown? Any true and fair investigation should continue until all leads and issues have been exhausted, whatever that date may turn out to be.
Again, real people are involved. They deserve a real investigation.