OT: Notre Dame alum blasts school for sexual assualt/rape by football players

Submitted by Leaders And Best on December 7th, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Notre Dame alum wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about why she will not be rooting for Notre Dame to win the National Championship: two current players on the team are alleged to have committed sexual assualt and rape, and the school has promoted an environment to attack the victims in order to protect the football team.




December 7th, 2012 at 6:10 PM ^

There was an investigation that was turned over to the authorities for one of the alleged incidents. No charges were made. The other incident is unfortunate (if it did happen), but not near as severe as the article would lead you to believe. I don't understand what the issue is. 


December 7th, 2012 at 6:35 PM ^


What is very clear from this article is that the authorities handled these cases very poorly. But this isn't enough to suggest that the University itself was knowlingly invovled in a cover up in order to win football games. The article in the OP makes it sound like the administration at ND actively covered up two rapes in order to protect the football team. What happened instead (it seems) is that the authorities did a very poor job investigating. This is NOT Penn State. It is unfortunate, and it shouldn't have happened, but it's wrong to use this story to denegrate the administration of a school because you dislike their football team. 


December 7th, 2012 at 6:45 PM ^

Your response sounds just like those of PSU and JoePa supporters just before that case blew up. Poor investigating when it involves the football program is a great sign of a cover up. Didn't PSU supporters claim, and still claim, things along the lines of poor investigating?


December 7th, 2012 at 7:18 PM ^

Rape investigations are often mishandled, is the point. It demonstrates that rape cases can be mishandled even when there is no interference going on with the investigation. It could easily be the case that the ND rape investigation was mishandled because rape investigations often are, not because a football player was involved. To say that poor investigation + football team = corruption is not necessarily accurate, then.


December 7th, 2012 at 8:16 PM ^

Any competent investigation of a serious (alleged) assault needs to occur within a far shorter time frame than happened at ND. Frankly, football related or not the quality of that work is suspect. 

I'll lay it out for you since you seem to be obfuscating versus the obvious: 

There probably was a rape case at Notre Dame. The victim may well have been egregiously harmed by a football player and then further harmed via text messaging and/or potential intimidation. Many days after the alleged events the primary elements of a typical investigation had not occured. The victim commited suicide. Certainly, the investigation of these events was poorly conceived and executed. 

Now, I can't say for certain that some, few or all rape investigations are mishandled any more than drunk driving, assault or shoplifting investigations are mishandled. I don't know how you could either. In this case, the University of Notre Dame certainly had a responsibility to support a competent investigation with full transparency (if only out of respect to the victim and their family). It seems this was not done. 

Now, can anyone unequivocally prove that Notre Dame's football program, it's reputation and the school's image in any way colored this investigation? Obviously not. The optics of the situation, however, are evident: alleged assault involving football player(s), shoddy investigation, players still on team and lack of transparency. Draw your own conclusions.

You, apparently, draw conclusions like the Penn State fans in the Sandusky case...I suppose if you put your head in the sand long enough then ND's problems will go away here. Seems that is the approach the investigators took, also.


December 7th, 2012 at 8:39 PM ^

The interesting thing about your post is that I agree with the majority of it. I agree the investigation of this incident was inadequate, even non existent when it mattered. I agree that the authorities had a duty to the victim than they failed to satisfy. There were no charges though, so what should the University have done about it? As far as transparency, aren't there privacy concerns that need to be observed? I absolutely agree that there should have been a much more rigorous investigation. I agree that rape and sexual assault are terrible, awful things that should happen to no one. I don't think this is on the administration of the school, though, unless you honestly believe Father Jenkins personally obstructed justice. 

As far as the Penn State situation, I was cautious when rumors first started circulating. You simply can not assume that every accusation you hear is proof of criminal activity. That is what I thought the Duke lacrosse incident taught us. As soon as proper, compelling evidence came out, I changed my position. That is simply the only responsible way to approach justice in a free society. 

In this case there are only accusations and proof of poor investigation. The poor investigation IS something to criticize. I don't know (I really don't know, can't tell) if that's on the administration of ND, though. What is clear is that this is not an appropriate way to take a jab at a rival school.


December 7th, 2012 at 10:13 PM ^

In the investigation process the investigators should certainly have been above bard with the process undertaken. That is transparency in this case and it was not and has not been evident. Rather, bits and pieces of information have come out piecemeal (this is what happens when you don't keep the investigation transparent. Investigators need not disclose who or when they are interviewing etc. but that a "person or persons of interest" etc. are being investigated in South Bend. This needs to be updated regularly through a spokesman at the PD/University who can manage or control the content. This reasonable and victim respectful culture of openness and transparency did not occur at ND. Much like PSU and Ohio they sought to minimize, to limit transparency and by doing so re-victimized the victim and her family.

There is nothing, at a process level, in high visibility cases that should limit transparency. Most likely, ND's approach has opened them to the very real possibility of litigation and questions of investigational competence.


December 8th, 2012 at 9:57 AM ^

I believe the author is focused on the wrong story and I'm not sure any of you did any investigation beyond the author's twisted perspective.  Lizzy Seeburg never claimed she was raped.  She claimed a football player fondled her breasts, she demanded he stop, he did, then she left.  Both before and after the incident she told her psychiatrist she was contemplating suicide.  I think the Lizzy Seeburg story is less about ND football then it is about her family and Doctors not protecting her from herself.  ND football, although a part of her story (a small part), just seems to be a convenient target to afflix blame for her suicide.

The heart of the story should be the unnamed student where witnesses supported her allegation of rape, there is evidence of coersion by football players to not file charges, and there is proof of lackadaisical follow-up by authorities.  Yet, the author focuses on Lizzy Seeburg and intentionally misleads her audience to believe she was raped.  Why?  Ms. Seeburg's suicide becomes a lightening rod for sympathizers and furthers the author's cause -- which the basic tenents I support, but why mislead?  It should be obvious enough -- rape is a horrible crime.


December 8th, 2012 at 10:41 AM ^

I did...and many of your comments are conjecture. Please cite your sources.

By the way, the author and OP correctly use the words "sexual assault" in regard to the suicide case and "rape" is relevant for others.

In a much longer article the reporter cites a history of rape cases brought against the team and for which, as you pointed out, victims are pressured to remain silent.

The family signed a waiver allowing all the facts to be released and her therapist stated that she was not a suicide risk and that she would be alive today if not for the university's lack of response and student body/teams harassment.

Her signed statement to police documented much more than fondling of the breasts, however your words were the prosecutor's spin when he announced they were not pursuing the case.


December 8th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

You stated that the witeness conflicted with her story.  What you failed to realize from the quote you used is that she is the only witness.   The only other potential witness was the players  friend and roomate who's statement conflicted with hers.  But these spins you are using are what the players high powered and Notre Dame Chicago lawyer had started.

The truth is that it was dropped because the prosecuter would have a tough time making a case without her to tesify.  

This is more about the pressure brought upon her and others to not file a complaint and the football culture at ND. There was a federal investigation later and ND settled reportdedly so that they would not lose Title IX funding.


"That case led the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education to launch a seven-month investigation of Notre Dame that last summer resulted in a settlement agreement.

The Seeberg case is awful enough, but according to a former school administrator whose own daughter says she was raped 10 years ago, "They"—Notre Dame—"do a poor job in general." The takeaway from the NCRstory—written by Melinda Henneberger, a political reporter for the Washington Postand a 1980 Notre Dame graduate—is that Seeberg wasn't the first woman to be put through the university's meat grinder after making a sexual-assault accusation. And judging by Henneberger's reporting, she won't be the last."


December 7th, 2012 at 7:47 PM ^

Setting aside whether there is evidence of a guilty rapist or not, the attitude of indifference (on the part of campus police not interviewing the victim at all) the actions of interference, (in the acts of friends of the accused player harrassing and even threatening alleged victims) or most disturbingly the culture of disrespect (in the case of the university officials attacking a dead girls character, or even accusing the alleged victim) as a default response is very disturbing. The only reason those things would've happened at all is if there was a win at all costs culture like there was at Penn State. If a 3rd alleged victim comes forward accusing a player of rape I would be surprised if the response was any different, honestly.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:59 PM ^

The woman who authored the piece in the Washington Post, as pointed out in the title of this thread,  is a Notre Dame alum.  Why would you suspect she harbors prejudice against her alma mater?

Without knowing more, I am not about to blame ND for what occurred or suggest that there was a coverup.  I have to say, though, that after the Sandusky scandal, there is nothing that would surprise me.

Leaders And Best

December 7th, 2012 at 6:44 PM ^

The one parallel to the Sandusky case is the way both investigations were bumbled and possibly meddled with.  It's hard for a prosecutor to press charges when the investigation is done poorly.

Notre Dame's response to the sexual assault led to the Deparment of Education investigation into Notre Dame and the settlement that followed.

Brown Bear

December 7th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

"The other incident is unfortunate (if it did happen), but not near as severe as the article would lead you to believe."

You seem like an intelligent poster, most the time. But for you to say this statement unless you were witness to the incident is as ignorant as can be. Rape/Sexual Assualt is never a "not as severe" as it seems thing unless you know for a FACT what happened.

-comment directed toward Owl


December 7th, 2012 at 6:55 PM ^

You know what? You're completely right. My first post in this thread was hastily typed up  out of exasperation because it seemed like the OP was using this to take a jab at a rival. My post was bad for a number of reasons, this being one of them. All I have are rumors, because not much was ever really made public, no charges were pressed, no police report, etc. What I have heard (should be taken with a grain of salt because it was from a ND fan) was that the incident involved unwanted groping. Supposedly he touched the girl's breasts, she didn't like it, so he stopped. Shouldn't have been done, and indicates a dangerous sense of entitlement. But not rape. Then again, something much worse could have happened. You're right, I don't truly know. That's an important point though, because it goes both ways. It seems like in this case there's a lot of presumed guilt going around. I thought the default was supposed to be presumed innocence?


December 7th, 2012 at 9:47 PM ^

I agree with you that him grabbing her breast isn't rape but it is sexual assault. if it was unwanted and unwarrented then it an assault and if it involved a sexual jesture then it was a sexual assault. thats the problem though cause it can turn into a he said she said case, and the police cant really do anything about it

814 East U

December 7th, 2012 at 6:18 PM ^

The "Football Culture" seems to be everywhere even in South Bend. Until the NCAA realizes that they are not the NFL or NBA these things will continue to occur.  Mo Money Mo Problems ipitomizes college athletics today and I can forsee a day when people get sick and tired of paying enormous amounts of money to go watch "student athetes." It may not be for awhile, but if DB starts asking me for more and more money per seat and donations while paying tuition for my kids etc. I may be one of the lost fans myself.

French West Indian

December 8th, 2012 at 9:46 AM ^

...I think I already am a "lost fan."  Outside of mgoblog, I don't pay nearly as much attention to the team as I used to.  I even skip watching some games now because I know that everything relevant will be rehashed here during the following week.

Maybe it's just me, but I was probably a much better "fan" of the team when I could focus my energy on the team once per week.  Now it's just kind of been diffused into oblivion.

As for Notre Dame and the possibility of a cover-up in a sex assault, I can't help but think that they (and any other Catholic institution) deserve additional scrutiny given their church's institutional covering up of all the pedophile priest sex scandals.  I've read enough about those to be incredibly skeptical of the Vatican & everything that falls within the domain of their hierarchy.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:47 PM ^

I don't think the two situations are all that similar. In ND's case, formal allegations were made that were investigated both by the school and the police, and charges were not brought. Not really the same thing as administrators hiding allegations of child rape from the authorities.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm not saying that what happened wasn't tragic or that ND did everything it could, but what happened at PSU was horrible on the "worst thing ever associated with college athletics" level. People should really not be so ready to declare things "PSU, part 2."


December 7th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

There was a formal investigation of Sandusky in the 90's that went nowhere for reasons unknown. On the surface at least, there are a lot of similarities between the two cases. The obvious difference is that one involves the rape of children and the other involves rape of adults. Not a big difference in my opinion.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:55 PM ^

Understood. I'm just referring to the culture of institutional cover-up.

Regardless, human life is valuable and Brian Kelly seems to have a track record to suggest he believes otherwise. CMU murder cover-up and the negligent death of the student video guy.

I don't have a very objective view of him as I'm friends with a few guys that have played under Kelly. Let's just say there are other things that have been covered up at previous Kelly 'regimes.'

blue note

December 8th, 2012 at 4:34 AM ^

Sandusky case:  10+ accusers allege years of child molestation, third party testifies he witnessed child rape, school officials are aware and do nothing. Here: woman with history of mental problems alleges that a player touched her breast. Authorities investigate, no charges.. Fail to see the similarities.

Closest similarities I can see are Duke Lacrosse...guilty until proven innocent, no due process, trial by media,etc. 


December 7th, 2012 at 6:35 PM ^

There probably is a culture of sexual entitlement at the nd football program and in college sports in general. And the victim-blaming talked about in the article is terrible. But I fear the author the author is taking nd to task for presuming innocence which is what they should do.


December 7th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

While presumption of innocence is a big deal in a case like this (see: Duke Lacrosse), I don't think it's a problem with this author or article.

The author doesn't name the accused assailants, nor does she name any individuals (investigators, university officials, teammates) who could be associated with these crimes. By not targeting any individual, I think the author is trying to point out some fundamental flaws in the way we think about sports as a culture, rather than trying to assign guilt.

French West Indian

December 8th, 2012 at 9:54 AM ^

...with the idea of cultural flaws.  It's one of the reasons I've been easing off my interest in the team. It's fun to see our team win but not at the cost of hero worship.  In the big picture, it's part of the reason I didn't really have a problem with the recent losing seasons.  If a bowl streak is considered sacred then, really, how long before a scandal hits us too?  Easing off the expectatins is not the worst thing in the world, and probably for everybody's benefit.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:43 PM ^

It makes me sick to think about where priorities are in big time college athletics.  I also hate how people get smeared when it comes to sexual crimes.  The only thing worse than the person(s) who commit these acts are people who falsely accuse someone of doing so.  Unfortunately the truth hardly comes out in many of these cases and often the truth is in the middle.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:43 PM ^

That story never got the full attention that it should have gotten. It should have been huge. PSU huge. The accused rapist should have gone to court. As for the guy who sent the threatening texts you don't need due process. The texts are there. Not only off the team but I'm sure there's charges for him too. Harrassment, terroristic threats, you name it. People should have been fired too. Win at all costs huh Kelly. I hate ND the normal reasons we all share but I was aware of this story and it's the #1 reason I'm saying 'Roll Tide" for the first time in my life in January.


December 7th, 2012 at 10:34 PM ^

I'm just as angered at raping, intimidating, and alienating even one woman as Sandusky raping many kids. You see, it makes all the difference for that one. I'm incensed if it should happen once and I believe that one should be fought for as vehemently as the many.
I guess I'd have to be a woman, be raped, and be intimidated and alienated by my entire world or the potential of it (ie the whole ND fanbase) to truly understand that one woman's pain.

Fake Jim Harbaugh

December 7th, 2012 at 6:44 PM ^

It seems like only two years ago that Declan Sullivan died on Coach Kelly's watch:

Gust of wind up to 60mph well today will be fun at work... I guess I've lived long enough.

Holy f*** holy f*** this is terrifying.


I was really looking forward to Coach Kelly moving on to "pursue other opportunities", but that's off the table.


December 7th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

Brian Kelly is a coach that I actually loathe. Besides the whole grape-face,

there's this quote he had.

Like 4 or 5 Chicago Tribune reporters were asking him a bunch about Lizzy Seeberg, and he responded:

"I didn't know you guys could afford all those guys," Kelly said during the conference call, a reference to Tribune Company's lingering bankruptcy.

A girl just committed suicide after her apparent ND rapist was let off scott-free and he's cracking jokes.


December 7th, 2012 at 6:51 PM ^

I am not sure what the University should have done differently to be honest. I mean an investigation was done (perhaps poorely) and no guilt was found. Am I missing something? Should they have told the investigatrs "No you are wrong this guy is guilty." Personally I think this article is trash.


December 7th, 2012 at 7:10 PM ^

Oh, I don't know, I am certainly no expert in this area, but I would think the people in charge would at least ask why it took so long for the investigations to begin and fix the process to make sure it does not happen again, for starters. I probably would set up help centers to help victims of sexual assault that seem to happen fairly often in many universities, so they can have advocates to walk them through the process.

I would have suspended the player accused until cleared and kicked off the player who sent threatening texts.

That's just off my head within five minutes. One would hope administrators of a major institutions could do better.