An ex-Fairview High School football player is accused of pinning a female student to a locker in a school hallway and groping her while the pair were freshmen at the school, prosecutors with the Boulder County District Attorney’s office said Tuesday, on the first day of the ex-student’s jury trial.
Erik Fischer, defense attorney for the ex-football player, said the alleged assault never happened.
“Ladies and gentlemen, these stories are concocted,” he told the jury during opening statements in the first of two jury trials for the former football player on sexual assault allegations.
The ex-student, whom The Denver Post is not naming because he is charged in juvenile court, was a freshman at the school in 2016 and 2017. He is also accused of sexually assaulting a student while the two were together in a basement at a friend’s house in the spring of 2017, according to a Boulder police report obtained by The Post.
The ex-student has been charged with four counts of felony sexual assault, two counts of misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact and a sentencing enhancer, according to the Boulder County District Attorney’s office. The charges have been separated into two different jury trials.
The first trial began Tuesday on a single charge of criminal attempt to commit unlawful sexual contact — the alleged locker pinning incident. The second trial on the remaining charges is scheduled for Sept. 19.
Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Adrian VanNice said Tuesday that the ex-student, who was on the football team during his freshman year, pushed the female student, pinned her to a locker and put his hand down the front of her shorts. VanNice argued during opening statements that the girl did not report the assault for years because of a culture tolerant of sexual violence by athletes at Fairview High School.
“What (she) knew was if she reported what had happened to her, that not much was going to happen to the individual …especially if that individual was a member of the football team,” VanNice said. “The response from the administration would be lackadaisical at best and punitive toward her at worst. And the reaction of her peers, that would be devastating. So she, like others, kept quiet. … She knew that what happened to her was just another day in the life of a Fairview High School girl.”
Fischer pointed to discrepancies in the female student’s account of the alleged assault and in the accounts of witnesses. He questioned why she did not report the incident immediately and at first denied that the student ever put his hand down her pants. Fischer said the alleged assault never happened.
“Her story changes, and changes dramatically,” he said of the female student. “… She has given a number of statements. It changes every time she talks.”
Testimony in the trial is expected to start Wednesday with the victim’s account, and end by Thursday. During the police investigation into the ex-football player, witnesses told police he was known to grope multiple female students in the hallways of school.
Fairview High School has faced a reckoning in the last three years over its culture, which students say has been tolerant of sexual violence and mistreatment of women and girls, particularly by athletes. The student-led pushback began after the school’s star quarterback, Aidan Atkinson, was arrested on sex-assault charges in 2019 in connection with alleged assaults on a party bus the prior year.
Atkinson was acquitted at trial of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault in April 2021, and the next month pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor harassment as part of a plea deal for other charges connected with the case.
In a separate case, a former lacrosse player at the high school was convicted in February of raping three students and sentenced to 90 days in jail followed by two years of probation. Two of those victims have filed an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit against the Boulder Valley School District, alleging school officials knew the athlete was accused of sexual assault but did nothing to protect students at school.
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