Apparently, it’s open season on women at Notre Dame. Jezebel.com is all over this, understandably.
“A freshman at St. Mary’s College committed suicide just nine days after reporting a sexual assault by a Notre Dame football player.
“According to Stacy St. Clair and Todd Lighty of the Chicago Tribune, 19-year-old Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg had struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, but a friend said she was “so excited and so enthusiastic about starting the year off right” at St. Mary’s. Then, on Aug. 31, not long after classes started, she was allegedly attacked by a Notre Dame football player.
“St. Clair and Lighty write,
“She reported it to Notre Dame police at 5 p.m. the following day. The department’s Web site twice refers to a single alleged sex crime on Aug. 31, listing it once as a sexual battery and once as a sexual assault by an acquaintance. The documents provided no further description. A source said that her allegations did not describe penetration, but a sexual attack that ended when there was a knock on the door.
Why aren’t the details clearer? In part because the Notre Dame police, rather than turning the case over to the St. Joseph County special victims unit, have chosen to handle it themselves — and they say they don’t have to abide by the open records laws governing the rest of Indiana. They have not asked the county prosecutor to charge anyone, and the university wouldn’t make officials available for comment. Instead, they made this vague statement:
Any time we are made aware of a student potentially violating university policies, we implement a process that is careful and thorough so that facts can be gathered, rumors and misinformation can be sorted out, and an informed decision can be made about what action to take — if action is warranted. We take our obligation seriously, we involve law enforcement officials as appropriate, and we act in accordance with the facts.
“St. Mary’s, for its part, appears to be passing the buck a bit — its president said in a letter to parents and students, “Although we do not know the cause of her death, we want to stop any potential rumors by stating that no crime occurred on our campus related to her death.” A crime may have occurred off St. Mary’s campus, but nobody’s willing to talk about it.”
“The St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office has announced it won’t prosecute the alleged sexual battery that led college student Elizabeth Seeberg to take her own life. Nor will the person who sent her a threatening text be charged.
“…after the alleged battery (which in Indiana is defined as “the unwanted touching of another person to satisfy one’s own sexual desires”), a friend of the suspect sent Seeberg this text: “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.” St. Joseph’s County prosecutors have said this message doesn’t constitute harassment, and they won’t be prosecuting its sender either.
“The Seebergs’ lawyer reportedly asked Notre Dame for three things regarding their daughter’s assault: “a full and vigorous investigation surrounding the allegations; transparency of the investigative process; and an “appropriate disciplinary response” from the university.” So far, they appear to have gotten none of these. Notre Dame won’t publicly discuss the way it’s dealt with the case, and when the Seebergs’ lawyer sent the university president a letter explaining their position, he refused to even read it “because it contained facts about the case and could interfere with his role in the school’s disciplinary process.”