Suit accuses Notre Dame of protecting player after sexual assault allegation

(Associated Press)

A woman has sued Notre Dame, alleging that the school gave favorable treatment to a former player she says sexually assaulted her.

The unnamed woman said the unnamed player sexually assaulted her after she walked him back to his dorm room in January of 2016. The player, allegedly drunk, assaulted her at his residence and shattered her phone as she tried to use it.

The woman, a student at Holy Cross at the time, said she didn’t want to report the assault because she was afraid of the player. In the suit, obtained in full by Deadspin and filed in August, she said she wanted to deal with the event by avoiding the player. But when another woman said she was assaulted by the same player, the plaintiff said she was told she’d be a part of a Title IX investigation.

“Jane desired to deal with the attack in privacy by avoiding future contact with the perpetrator; three months after the assault, however, a female Notre Dame student approached Jane to ask for her anonymous support of a second victim who was hesitant to come forward regarding a purported assault by the same perpetrator. This student took Jane’s story to the Notre Dame Title IX Office, which contacted Jane in mid-April. Jane was reluctant to participate in an investigation as she was not familiar or properly trained in the Title IX process as she was a Holy Cross College student at the time of the incident.

During final exams week in Spring 2016, the Title IX Office informed Jane they had identified the perpetrator and would be contacting him to identify Jane as the complainant. This forced Jane to contact her father to disclose the attack for the first time. Jane and her father agreed with the Title IX Office that the case of the second victim was to be thoroughly investigated prior to contacting the perpetrator. After four days and no apparent investigation, the Title IX Office decided to move forward to disclose Jane’s name to the perpetrator despite her and her father’s explicit demand they not do so. The perpetrator was told Jane was not participating in the procedure.”

The player, she says, was then suspended from the team because of academic issues and wanted to pursue a transfer. The suit alleges that Notre Dame suggested that she close the investigation so the player could transfer freely.

“The University ‘addressed’ this concern by recommending Jane close the Title IX investigation as it would be difficult for a Notre Dame football player, who had already been suspended from the team for ‘attitude issues’ to transfer to another school with a pending sexual assault case. Despite not opening the case in the first place, Jane agreed to close it. The perpetrator transferred to a Power Five football school where he is expected to play this fall. This approach served to protect Notre Dame’s reputation (and opened up an additional football scholarship) while ignoring the impact on the victim.”

Notre Dame told the Chicago Tribune in a statement that there were “many false statements” in the lawsuit. The suit asks for unspecified damages for the woman’s mental and physical suffering, as well as for the loss of potential economic opportunities. The woman transferred to Notre Dame from Holy Cross but said she withdrew from Notre Dame shortly after her transfer.

“The claim that Notre Dame was motivated to assist the accused student to transfer is one of many false statements in the complaint,” university spokesman Paul Browne said. “Like every university, Notre Dame has a legal obligation to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. It takes this obligation and the safety of its students seriously, and proceeds in a manner that is as respectful as possible of the privacy of the students involved. We did so in this case.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!