The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office has decided not to press charges against any students in Lizzy Seeberg's case. Michael Dvorak, writing on the Office's behalf, said that there were conflicts in the witness testimonials, and that subpoenaed phone records conflicted with Seeberg's complaint. He also pointed out that "Ms. Seeberg's statements -- as a consequence of her untimely death on September 10, 2010 -- would be found inadmissible in a court of law because of evidentiary rules involving hearsay."
To read his full explanation, click here.
Ten days after an alleged sexual battery at the hands of a Notre Dame football player, St. Mary's student Elizabeth Seeberg overdosed on the anti-depressant Effexor, taking her own life on September 10 of this year.
Now, new details released by the Chicago Tribune show the extent of the alleged harassment she suffered after the attack, and the glacial pace of the university's investigation.
The alleged attack took place on August 31, while Seeberg was in the room of the unnamed football player, along with a friend of his and that friend's girlfriend. (The player remains unidentified because he hasn't been charged with a crime.) When that couple left the room briefly, the player allegedly sexually assaulted Seeberg as she froze, weeping, according to a statement found on her computer after her death.
The player's phone distracted him, and the couple returned shortly thereafter, ending the incident, the Tribune reports. Seeberg quickly left.
Records show that Seeberg, 19, took all the right steps: she went to the hospital for a DNA evidence kit; she consulted with a campus group that helps victims of sex crimes; and she filed a report with Notre Dame campus police.
That last step, though, proved particularly ineffective. From the latest Tribune story:
[A] detective first tried to reach the player in his room on Sept. 9, more than a week after Seeberg filed her complaint. However, the athlete was not there so the officer left a voice message on his cell phone. Another unsuccessful attempt was made four days later [three days after Seeberg's death].
Two weeks after the alleged attack was reported, police interviewed the player on Sept. 15. The Seebergs said authorities later told them the player described the interaction with Lizzy as consensual and said he was the one who decided to stop.
An earlier story in the Tribune described the other things campus police weren't doing: they allegedly didn't tell the St. Joseph County cops investigating Seeberg's death about the accusations, and they didn't refer the case to the county's special victims unit, established to handle sex crimes.
Perhaps most shockingly, the player in question has put on a gold helmet and taken the football field with the Irish every Saturday since Seeberg's death.
Coach Brian Kelly has repeatedly demurred when asked about the player's status, saying it was up to the university to investigate. He even joked with reporters on the subject -- when four separate Tribune writers asked him about the case, he said, "I didn't know you guys could afford all those guys," a crack at the Trib's ongoing bankruptcy.
The paper reports that a friend of the player in question texted Seeberg asking what steps she was taking to prosecute the incident, and when she refused to tell him, he responded: "Don't do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea."
The Seebergs have brought in a high-powered lawyer, Zachary Fardon -- the man who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan -- to press the university on its investigation. Fardon has thus far seen mixed results in moving the case forward, as prosecutors warn that it will be difficult to press charges when the victim is dead.
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