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Sixth rape allegation surfaces at CU

Head coach Gary Barnett is under fire for comments he made about Katie Hnida.
Head coach Gary Barnett is under fire for comments he made about Katie Hnida.

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University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman on "American Morning," 7 a.m., ET.
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CNN's Josie Burke reports on embattled Colorado coach Gary Barnett and continued accusations of athlete misconduct.
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Former Colorado University football players voice their opinions on the sex scandal, and voice support for coach Gary Barnett.
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University of Colorado officials announce that football coach Gary Barnett has been placed on administrative leave.
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After being placed on leave, Barnett apologizes for comments regarding kicker Katie Hnida.
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Gary Barnett
Katie Hnida
University of Colorado

BOULDER, Colorado (CNN) -- Already under heavy scrutiny for allegedly using sex as a recruiting tool, the University of Colorado football program Thursday suffered another setback: a sixth rape allegation against a player.

The allegation comes a day after head coach Gary Barnett was suspended from the program for comments demeaning the only woman to have ever played on the team. Katie Hnida, a Colorado placekicker in 1999, has alleged she was raped by a teammate.

There have been three accusations in the past three days. The case revealed Thursday is the first to include DNA samples from the alleged rapist.

Barnett told CNN's Larry King that it's too early to judge the university and its football program.

"I don't know that at this point in time you can say anything has gone wrong," he said. "I think there are a lot of allegations. At this date, there has yet to be anything proven, there has yet to be any charges brought."

With the accusations building, Jim Martin, a member of the Board of Regents, said simply, "The whole university is shaken."

The university is investigating all the allegations, but Martin suggested it was time for the probe to widen and urged that an independent party handle the investigation.

"I think now, given the events and now the numbers and the severity, we need a panel that's impartial, that has full subpoena power for not only documents, but for witnesses," he told CNN.

No charges have been filed as a result of any of the allegations.

Barnett told King he made a decision to improve academics and recruiting practices at the school when he joined in 1999. He said he implemented a strict discipline policy that was guided by a 124-page conduct manual.

"The way that it's coming across national, I don't think that's who I am," Barnett said.

Earlier, a half dozen former football players came to the aid of Barnett, saying the story has been blown out of proportion and that the coach is a man of high morals and integrity.

Scott Nemeth, who played offense from 1999 to 2001, said Barnett was a strict disciplinarian and handed out wristbands bearing the letters DTRT, which stood for "Do the right thing," Nemeth explained.

"Gary Barnett is an upright, honest and moral man. I stand by him as my coach, as my leader and as my mentor," Nemeth said.

Rashidi Barnes, who played defense until 2001, said the media is "bombarding" the student athletes.

"These kids are great kids, positive kids. They are not villains, they are not rapists. These kids want to get an education and go to school. That's it. And play football, basketball or whatever else it is," Barnes said.

Former quarterback Charles Johnson added, "He's a guy of high moral integrity, and a guy who I believe in, quite frankly. ... I think it's unfortunate that a balanced story has not been told."

The scandal gained momentum this week when Hnida told Sports Illustrated that she was raped by a teammate and that she was verbally abused, harassed and molested by her fellow players.

start quoteI think I said the wrong thing, the wrong way at the wrong timeend quote
-- Head coach Gary Barnett

Barnett was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after he called Hnida an "awful" player who "couldn't kick the ball through the uprights" on Tuesday. He has since tried to back away from his comments saying they were taken out of context.

Colorado University President Elizabeth Hoffman said the coach "was not apologetic" when she spoke to him about the matter.

"In the context of a rape allegation, it is inappropriate to make statements about the ability of the player," Hoffman said.

Barnett told CNN he made a mistake.

"I think I said the wrong thing, the wrong way at the wrong time," he said.

Barnett explained that he was trying to show support for Hnida but was asked a specific question about the player's talent and ability.

"I was trying to communicate that we cared about Katie. We were going to go to any extent we could to help her achieve her dream of being a college football kicker," he said. "No matter what her ability was, we were trying to find a way to make sure she had a chance to do this."

Since Hnida came forward with her story, police have said they are investigating two more alleged rapes. In the most recent case, a woman told police she met two Colorado football players at a bar in August 2002 and was sodomized later that night -- an incident she has little memory of.

Former University of Colorado football player Scott Nemeth spoke to reporters Thursday.
Former University of Colorado football player Scott Nemeth spoke to reporters Thursday.

She told police she "may have been drugged."

DNA tests ruled out one of the men, but not the other, according to police.

In another case, according to police records released Wednesday, a woman in the athletic department claimed she was raped by a player and when she told Barnett about it, she quoted him as saying he "would back his player 100 percent if she took this forward in the criminal process."

According to police records from September 29, 2001, the woman claimed a football player raped her in an apartment despite her telling him "at least 10 times that she did not want to have sex with him."

The CU program has been under scrutiny for weeks after depositions surfaced that three women claim they were raped at, or just after, a sex party in Boulder in December 2001. (Full story)

Nearly two weeks ago, the Broomfield County Sheriff's Department said it was investigating whether the university's athletic department hired an escort service for sex parties at a hotel.

Johnson, who in addition to being quarterback served as a recruiter, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he was not familiar with any "recruiting parties."

"Nothing is claimed to have happened at a recruiting party. The 2001 allegation the D.A. investigated wasn't a recruiting party it was a party a young lady had off campus with football players there," Johnson said. "I've never been to a recruiting party or a party specifically for recruits."

Former player Ryan Johanningmeier said he never knew of alleged misconduct while he attended school at the same time as Hnida.

"I personally did not see it, hear about or hear any stories," Johanningmeier said.

In the Sports Illustrated article, Hnida said five teammates surrounded her on the first day of practice under Barnett and verbally abused her. During the season, players exposed themselves to her "at least five times," she said.

Then, one summer night, when she was at the home of a teammate, she said he began kissing her despite her objections and then raped her. "I tried to push him off me, but he outweighed me by 100 pounds," Hnida was quoted as saying.

She said she was scared to go to the police, fearing "what he might do to me."

In a written statement Tuesday, Hnida -- who dropped out of CU after her sophomore year and eventually walked on at the University of New Mexico in 2002 -- said she decided to go public now because of the swirling controversy surrounding Boulder's program.

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