5 University of Colorado Temps on Paid Leave for Background Check Following Stabbing

BOULDER, Colo.

Five people hired at the University of Colorado through a mental-health agency were placed on paid leave for background checks Tuesday, after a former program participant was accused of attacking a student with a knife.

Kenton Drew Astin, who had a temporary job as a cashier at the university last year, was accused of slashing freshman Michael George Knorps across the neck with a knife on Monday.

Knorps, 17, of Winnetka, Ill., was released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. University spokesman Bronson Hilliard said Knorps was off campus with family.

Astin, 39, was arrested and hospitalized after stabbing himself in the chest. He was listed in good condition and was under 24-hour guard, according to Boulder Community Hospital officials and campus police.

Astin had been referred to the school by Chinook House, which teaches skills intended to help people become self-sufficient if they overcome mental illness.

Five other people from Chinook had temporary jobs on campus this fall busing tables, washing vehicles, vacuuming floors and doing other tasks, Hilliard said. He said the university hopes they can return if the background checks find no violent crimes on their records.

Chinook Clubhouse is a program of The Mental Health Center Serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties, which has been working with CU for 17 years, said Kitty deKieffer, spokeswoman for the Mental Health Center.

“This is the first kind of incident that either one of us has experienced,” she said. She declined to comment on Astin, citing federal privacy laws.

Astin was sent to a state mental hospital in 2001 after he was accused of stabbing a 21-year-old Longmont man. Court records show Astin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on charges including attempted first-degree murder in that case.

DeKieffer said she hopes the university is not singling out anyone.

“They’re going throughout their due diligence and we hope to maintain a long-term relationship after this is all over,” deKieffer said.

Meanwhile, the number of people signed up to receive emergency text messaging from the university has more than tripled since the attack. A total of 5,845 students, faculty and staff members have signed up for the service, which was launched last week. After Monday’s attack, a message was sent to the 1,300 people signed up at the time.

– Associated Press

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