DENVER - The University of Colorado has already spent more than a million taxpayer dollars investigating whether its policies and procedures were inadequate to deal with the Aurora theater shooting, CALL7 Investigators found. The school spent tens of thousands more in taxpayer money representing faculty and staff in the criminal case, records show.
The meter is still running and taxpayers could be on the hook for potentially millions more, sources said.
Records obtained by CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia show that attorney Robert Miller of Perkins-Coie, who was hired to examine whether CU's policies and procedures were flawed in dealing with accused shooter James Holmes, has already billed $844,000. Sources say the bill could eventually exceed $1 million.
As CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia first reported shortly after the shootings, university psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Fenton called members of the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) team "6 weeks before" the killings to express her concerns about Holmes. She also called a CU police officer to say Holmes told her about wanting "to kill a lot of people."
She declined to put Holmes on a mental health hold, however, and sources say the BETA team took no action.
Now it is her actions, in part, that are costing the CU and taxpayers.
The CALL7 Investigators obtained billing statements from five different law firms representing faculty and staff members who were in contact with Holmes or part of the BETA team.
There was also a contract for a public relations firm, called "G.B.S.M.," to deal with CU's media strategy. So far, the firm has billed taxpayers more than $84,000 to help the university craft its message.
CU has spent another $150,000 in legal fees for firms representing Fenton and other psychiatrists who were involved in treating Holmes before the shooting. While the eventual bill will run much higher, the university's insurer will pay the balance.
Legal fees for the law firm representing the university police officer who Fenton called with her concerns about James Holmes and the firm representing the University BETA team have thus far cost about $38,000.
With an anticipated criminal trial and civil law suits, university officials expect to eventually pay out a total of a million dollars, with insurance picking up the rest.
One civil suit has already been filed and the CALL7 investigators learned that 25 potential victims have filed notices of claims with the university saying they intend to sue. Those claims could total tens-of-millions of dollars. There may also be federal lawsuits.
University sources say most of the costs of civil lawsuits would likely be covered by CU's insurance policy.