Well, if that don't bet all. Now that sexual assault has made the news, stories are changing fast. The latest is:
The St. Joseph County Police Department said today that university officials did inform them of the sexual attack allegation by a 19-year-old Northbrook woman made shortly before she died from an apparent suicide in September.
In a report Sunday detailing Elizabeth "Lizzy" Seeberg's sexual battery complaint, Assistant Chief William Redman was quoted saying the department investigating Seeberg's death had not been told about her sexual attack complaint. Redman said that after the story was published, a detective investigating the death told him that Notre Dame police had called him a couple days after he was assigned to the matter to inform him about her allegation.
The rest of the story is here.
The central question is simple: Sexual assault is a crime. Crimes must be reported to criminal prosecutors. Did Notre Dame promptly notify the county prosecutors? Or did it wait months while its "investigation" was underway.
The county prosecutor said Notre Dame forwarded its report to his office "last week," which just happened to be after the Tribune, in fairness, had notified the university that it would soon run the story. The prosecutor said he was not aware of it until the Tribune published the story on Sunday. He said he had not yet finished reading the report. [Story is here.]
Now: Is the forwarding of the ND case file to civil authorities just as the story was about to break only a coincidence? Are we to believe that the chief prosecutor was just getting around now to reading the details of an explosive story involving one of the county's, state's and nation's most recognized institutions? Are we to believe that a police force hired and managed by the university itself does not have a conflict of interest in investigating a story that can be damaging to the university?
Seeberg well documented the alleged attack and told friends about it. She reported it to Notre Dame authorities, where the attack took place, She did everything right. Yet, she waited days and days for something, anything to happen, or to be contacted by civil (non-Notre Dame) law enforcement agencies.
Finally, she committed suicide. The Tribune reported that county law enforcement authorities investigated her death. But--here's the thing--they were not informed in their death investigation about a critical piece of information--that she had filed a formal complaint of sexual assault against a specific individual. If this is true, Notre Dame officials are as irresponsible and guilty as were some of the Catholic Church's hierarchy in not reporting alleged sexual attacks by predatory priests.
When the school defenders repeatedly point out that the law protects
the privacy of individual students--as well it should--note should be
take that Seeberg's own parents have been so dissatisfied with the
school's handling of the case that they have hired a former federal
prosecutor--the one that successfully tried former Illinois Gov. George
Ryan--to conduct their own independent investigation.
The stunning details of this latest blot on the school are revealed in a front-page story in Sunday's Chicago Tribune.
The allegations against the unnamed player were made by Elizabeth
"Lizzy" Seeberg, 19, a freshman from Northbrook who was attending St.
Mary's College near Notre Dame. Seeberg, who had battled depression and
anxiety, apparently overdosed on a prescription medication in her own
room during the third week of classes in September following the attack.
how has Notre Dame responded to this tragedy? The player has remained on
the team. Local law enforcement authorities weren't notified of the
assault. And two months after the assault--which she documented in
writing--the university refuses to disclose what it has done to
investigate the case or, according to the Tribune, even acknowledge the
existence of the case. Said the Tribune:
"Campus authorities did not tell the St. Joseph County
Police Department investigating Seeberg's death about her report of a
sexual attack, county officials said. Nor did they refer the case to the
county's special victims unit, which was established to handle sex
offenses, according to prosecutors."
Not until the Tribune informed the school on Friday that it was about to publish the story did the university turn over a "voluminous" file on its investigation to St. Joseph County prosecutors.
itself, this insult to justice and decency is monumental. But the insult
becomes stratospheric when you add it to the death of student
videographer Declan Sullivan who was sent up in a scissors lift on a
very windy day to tape football practice. Athletic director Jack
Swarbrick must have thought he was talking a country full of morons when
he said the wind that day was "unremarkable." The school dodged and
weaved responsibility until public pressure became so great that
university president John Jenkins finally publicly accepted full
Tribune story--a fine piece of journalism by Stacy St. Clair and Todd
Lighty--leaves the reader with the distinct impression of a cover-up of
the Seeberg matter. This is a school so besotted with itself that it
deems it need answer to no one, not even to civil authority when a crime
has been reported. That would include Seeberg's parents, who have hired
Zachary Fardon, a former federal prosecutor who tried ex-Gov. George
Ryan, to conduct their own independent investigation.
insularity is high irony. While leaving to its own "police force" to
investigate the sexual assault charges it quickly handed over to the
local prosecutor the case of 88 people who were arrested by school
police for peacefully demonstrating on campus the selection of anti-life
president Barack Obama as an honored commencement speaker. The school's
determination to punish the demonstrators can only be described as
spiteful and obsessive.
Notre Dame 88, which included a nun and an elderly priest, face
penalties of up to a year in prison and fines of $5,000. The
Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a pro-life law firm, is defending the
protestors without charge. The university technically can claim that
calling off the prosecution is out of their hands, but at the same time,
it has not used its so-called prestige to seek Christian charity for
Dame considers its police force to be on the same level as municipal
forces, but it refuses to make anything public about the alleged attack,
as real police forces are required to do. Arrogantly, it reserves to
itself the power and right to conduct the investigation in secret and to
leave an accused sex offender on its football team.
Dame claims to be the nation's pre-eminent Catholic university, but it
behaves as if it had no sense of justice and accountability. Clearly any
concept of in loco parentis has disappeared. What remain are vanity, arrogance and malice.