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Lawsuit dismissed against Colorado officials

Jul 20, 2018

  • Adam RittenbergESPN Staff Writer
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    • College football reporter.
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
    • Graduate of Northwestern University.

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Colorado football coach Mike MacIntyre, athletic director Rick George and the university’s chancellor and president by a woman accusing former assistant football coach Joe Tumpkin of domestic violence.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss Pamela Fine’s lawsuit, contending that they did not properly respond when she informed them of her allegations against Tumpkin. Fine in September filed a separate lawsuit against Tumpkin for assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, which remains despite Wednesday’s ruling.

Martinez wrote that MacIntyre, George, university chancellor Phil DiStefano and university president Bruce Benson had no legal obligation to protect Fine because she has no direct affiliation with the school. The judge ruled that the Colorado officials “provided neither access nor cover for Tumpkin’s alleged conduct.”

“Tumpkin’s actions took place outside the scope of his position with the university, and seemingly without his employer’s knowledge,” Martinez wrote in his ruling. “The tortious contact which [Fine] alleges Tumpkin inflicted upon her in no way depended on his position as a coach with the university in order to be carried out. Absent a special relationship between them and [Fine], therefore, [the defendants] are not liable for a failure to act in response to [Fine’s] complaints.”

In June 2017, DiStefano was suspended 10 days without pay, and both MacIntyre and George were reprimanded by the school’s board of regents following an external review of how they handled Fine’s allegations against Tumpkin. As part of the reprimand, MacIntyre and George both donated $100,000 to organizations that address domestic violence.

Martinez in his ruling wrote, “The law does not always require that people with knowledge of bad acts take action.” He did express concern about “the apparent reluctance of the university and its senior athletic staff to take substantial steps to address [Fine’s] allegations until they were publicly reported.”

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