The Denver Broncos named Vance Joseph as their new head coach last week, returning him to the state where he started out his coaching career with the University of Colorado Boulder—and abruptly left under unexplained circumstances.
At the time, the implication in local reports was that Joseph’s departure was connected to a massive recruiting scandal that involved multiple women saying they were raped by football players, as well as reports of slush funds, and recruiting parties that hired strippers.
The circumstances specific to Joseph are being reported out now, thanks to the work of local newspaper the Daily Camera. They introduce a Boulder Police Department report from 2004 in which a woman said Joseph, then the defensive backs coach, went home with her and a friend—both believed to be athletic trainers—after a night out. While she was in bed, the woman told police, Joseph climbed into her bed, touched her body, grabbed her breasts, and ran his erect penis against her.
The woman’s friend later told the woman that Joseph had done “the same things” to her too, the police report said.
While police were investigating, Joseph took a job with another university. The case was closed because, according to the report, the victims did not want to press charges.
The police report, dated Mar. 31, 2004 (roughly a year after the alleged incident), notes that the investigation grew out of an attorney general’s task force looking into the wider university scandal. The officer got a name from a detective sergeant of a person who “might be a victim from someone at the University of Colorado,” the police report said. Over several days, the officer reached out to the woman, trying to get her to talk.
On Apr. 4, 2004, the university announced that Joseph had been placed on administrative leave the previous week. It called the suspension a “personnel matter” and wouldn’t give any other details, according to an Associated Press report from the time.
Two days later, on Apr. 6, the woman called police and said that she would talk to them, but did not want criminal charges.
She spoke to them in detail on Apr. 8. The woman told police that she was working at Colorado at the Dal Ward Athletic Center. One night, about a year earlier, she and a friend were out at a bar and pool hall in downtown Boulder where they ran into Joseph, then an assistant football coach with the Buffaloes. The woman said that they both had met Joseph before but never dated him. He bought them a few drinks at the bar, then all three went back to a home, where Joseph and another person smoked some pot. One of the women was tired and went to bed.
“She told us that the next thing she knew,” the report said, “VJ was in her room, took all his clothes off and climbed into bed with her.”
The report’s narrative ends with this summary.
The report does not show the officer reaching out to Joseph and said the second person declined to be interviewed. Near the top, it says: “Neither victim is interested in pursuing criminal charges. This case is exceptionally cleared.” The last date given in the narrative is Apr. 8, 2004.
On Apr. 9, Colorado announced that Joseph had taken a job coaching defensive backs at Bowling Green. The police report is signed by a supervisor on May 6.
More details gradually came about the investigation. In March 2005, the Denver Post and KUSA-TV reported on details in a still-secret grand jury report. The Post article contained this detail: “The report also details four sexual assault allegations by female trainers in the athletic department—two from women who said they were sexually assaulted by an assistant football coach.” It does not name the coach.
In August, Joseph’s name came out via one of the exhibits filed in a Title IX lawsuit filed against the university. In the deposition, former president Elizabeth Hoffman said Joseph was investigated for “probable or possible sexual harassment.”
This is the full page as entered with the court, which was reported on at the time locally (the Daily Camera recently reposted its story):
At no point in her deposition did Hoffman mention a police investigation surrounding Joseph, and news reports at the time don’t mention its existence either.
The women who filed the Title IX suit would go on to settle for more than $2.8 million. The ruling is considered one of the landmark cases in establishing that Title IX meant universities had to seriously investigate reports of rape.
When the Daily Camera reached out to the Broncos for comment on the police report, the reporters were told by Patrick Smyth, the team’s vice president of public relations: “While we were aware of these accusations, he was not charged with anything from the report filed in 2004.”
The full police report is below.