Questions over ND's handling of alleged sex assault

November 22, 2010 4:26:46 PM PST
There are questions over how Notre Dame handled allegations of a sexual assault by one of its football players.

The prosecutor in St. Joseph County, Indiana, now say that office has received a police report from Notre Dame involving the allegation. But that complaint was first filed two months ago.

The parents of the young woman who made the allegation -- and who also died from an apparent overdose of prescription drugs -- have hired a former federal prosecutor to look into the circumstances surrounding Notre Dame's investigation.

Notre Dame says it cannot discuss matters that pertain to students, but the local prosecutor says Notre Dame has given him an extensive report about the alleged incident.

A few weeks into her freshman year at St. Mary's College, Elizabeth Seeburg died of an apparent suicide. The 19-year-old who battled depression was found unconscious in her dorm room after taking an overdose of prescription medication.

Further investigation into Seeburg's death found that nine days earlier she had reported being sexually assaulted by a football player at neighboring Notre Dame University.

More than two months after the alleged incident, the school has not released details of its invigoration, saying it is legally prohibited from divulging any information.

"I feel like the university would be smart enough to do a thorough investigation and find out if there really is someone responsible, that he should be held accountable for it," said Andrew Romero, Notre Dame student.

"I say that I want to trust Notre Dame and that they're handling it, but I can see that they might want to not talk about it, I guess, because of the bad name that it can bring the student body and the athletes," said Chelsea Schmitt, Notre Dame student.

"Everyone has to acknowledge that it happened in the past, we can't just ignore it," said Theresa Her, St. Marys student.

No charges have been filed in this case. The Notre Dame football player remains on the team.

Over the weekend, Coach Brian Kelly said the investigation is a university matter.

"I'm certainly in accord with our university relative to the principles that I talked about," said Kelly.

But there was concern that Notre Dame police, which is a fully authorized agency, were not keeping local authorities apprised of the situation.

There were previous reports that St. Joseph County police investigating Seeburg's death were not told of her sexual assault complaint, but county prosecutor Michael Dvorak released a statement Monday, saying in part, "After Ms. Seeburg's death, the Notre Dame Security Police Department investigators assigned to the investigation of her sexual battery complaint contacted the St. Joseph County Special Victims Unit to advise them of the pending investigation."

Dvorak's statement went onto say the file forwarded on to his office by Notre Dame police is still under review. When its over, there will be announcement as to whether any charges will be filed.


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