Notre Dame president defends handling of sex case

Posted Dec. 26, 2010, at 3:55 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 26, 2010, at 6:19 p.m.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s president says the university acted with integrity in its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against a football player by a St. Mary’s College student who later committed suicide.

Campus police conducted a “thorough and judicious investigation that followed the facts where they led,” the Rev. John I. Jenkins told the South Bend Tribune for a story Sunday.

“I cannot stand by and allow the integrity of Notre Dame to be challenged so publicly,” Jenkins said. “The values at issue go to the very heart of who and what we are at Notre Dame.”

St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak said Dec. 16 that his office won’t pursue criminal charges in the case.

Nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Seeberg died of a suspected drug overdose Sept. 10. Dvorak said Seeberg accused a student-athlete of touching her breasts on Aug. 31. He didn’t reveal the name of the athlete.

Tom and Mary Seeberg of Northbrook, Ill., have criticized Notre Dame’s handling of their daughter’s death, telling the Chicago Tribune the school’s investigation was superficial.

“We spent a lot of time hoping they would live their values in this case,” Tom Seeberg told ABC News. “Live their values of sharing what they could about the investigation and live their values by trying to give Lizzy a voice in the University of Notre Dame disciplinary process.”

Dvorak said the case broke down because of inconsistencies in the statements of various people involved in the case.

“Conflicts exist among the witnesses’ accounts of the events given to the police. Subpoenaed cell phone records are inconsistent with parts of the complaint itself,” Dvorak said.

Jenkins said the player and a friend still may face student disciplinary action on accusations of sending Seeberg a text message that said, “Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.”

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