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Ex-student can sue SMC, ND

Meghanne Downes | Thursday, October 30, 2003

A former Saint Mary’s student who accused former Notre Dame football player Clifford Jefferson of rape will be able to pursue her federal lawsuit against both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, the South Bend Tribune reported.

The woman, who was a freshman at the time of the March 2001 incident, seeks damages due to the two schools’ alleged misconduct. She maintains Jefferson raped her in his car outside her dorm as she slipped in and out of consciousness after returning intoxicated with Jefferson from a South Bend bar.

The South Bend Tribune reported she claims the school is liable for the circumstances contributing to her being raped and the failure to discipline Jefferson, who graduated in 2001.

Both Notre Dame spokesman Matt Storin and Saint Mary’s spokeswoman Melanie McDonald declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The South Bend Tribune said U.S. District Court Judge Robert Miller denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss the suit because the woman, who is representing herself, failed to serve summonses within the proper time frame. The woman has now amended her complaint and the suit will proceed.

Though no formal criminal charges were filed against Jefferson, a jury awarded the woman $1 million in damages in her civil suit against Jefferson. The woman, who transferred to a college closer to her Pittsburgh home due to the incident, sued Jefferson on the basis that the alleged rape caused severe emotional and psychological trauma.