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Parties named in University lawsuit issue additional statements

| Friday, November 6, 2015

A Nov. 5 press release from the law firm of Anderson Agostino & Keller, P.C. provided new information on the lawsuit initiated by a student against the University and a former academic coach alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

The release stated the University has refused to correct the official statement made by Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne.

“Even after modifying his original statement to admit that an investigation occurred and the academic coach was terminated, Mr. Browne persisted in restating that the allegations made by the male student are unfounded,” the release stated.

Browne said in an email to The Observer on Thursday that the University acted immediately when informed of the problem.

“The student identified as John Doe in the lawsuit complained on Aug. 26 to the University’s Office of Institutional Equity about an employee’s conduct. The employee was identified in the lawsuit as Jane Roe. Soon thereafter, Notre Dame employed outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation of the allegations,” he said in the email.

Even though the student and the academic coach did not work together in a professional capacity, Browne said, “due to the nature of the allegations the University put Roe on leave pending resolution of the investigation.”

“John Doe told the investigator that while Roe never tried to seduce him, she pressured him to have sex with her daughter. Upon conclusion of the investigation and review of its findings, Notre Dame promptly terminated Roe on Oct. 5,” he said in the statement. “Further, a number of media outlets mistakenly reported that plaintiff was a student-athlete or that student-athletes were among other complainants. Neither is true. The sole plaintiff is not now and has never been a Notre Dame student-athlete.”

Caitlin Rourk, a spokesperson for the academic coach’s family, released a statement from the family to the Associated Press on Thursday evening.

“There are two sides to every breakup and that this is being played out in the media is incredibly painful to us,” the statement said. “While we may not be a perfect family, we are a close-knit one and welcomed this young man into our lives at a time when he, himself said, he couldn’t rely on anyone else.”

The law firm also released a document prepared by an attorney for the University during the course of its investigation, “in order to protect the student from the substantial undue prejudicial effect of Notre Dame’s false statement.”

“This document shows that someone acting on behalf of the University of Notre Dame was aware of the factual basis for the allegations, including a reference to a Notre Dame Football player living at the academic coach’s house for a couple weeks, and who had also ‘dated’ the academic coach’s daughter,” the press release from the law firm stated.  

The document, dated Sept. 9 and with the names and details of the involved parties redacted, gives the student’s account of the timeline of events and provides details on the student’s interactions with the former academic coach and her daughter.

The student stated he was introduced to the academic coach by a friend on March 18. The coach had been asked to attend one of his classes by the teacher “to give him pointers and advice on teaching.” The student met the academic coach’s daughter the same day. The student did not initiate contact with the academic coach for assistance in the course but began dating the daughter.

“Over the course of time [Student] and [Daughter] became serious. They engaged in sexual activities very often, to the point of being unnatural,” the document stated.

According to the document, the student became close with the academic coach, as well as the daughter.

“[Daughter] and [Mother] both were his best friends on Snapchat. They talked about everything. [Student] shared with them his personal thoughts, experiences and feelings,” the document stated.

Before leaving for his study abroad program in the summer, the student stayed with the daughter, according to the document. The student alleged that throughout the student’s and daughter’s relationship, the mother made repeated inquiries regarding their sexual encounters.

“[Mother] knew they were having sex, and afterward she would ask them how the condoms were and how the sex was,” the document states. “[Mother] talked to [Student] about her sex life. … She also said she always wanted to have sex with a black man.”

In August, the student began considering ending his relationship with the daughter, which the student felt was further complicated because his belongings were in the mother and daughter’s storage unit.

“Even if he had wanted to break up with [Daughter], he would not have done so because he is not sure if they would have given him his things. … [Daughter] said, ‘You know, if you break up with me, I am going to kill you, right?’ [Student] wasn’t sure if she was joking,” the document stated.

At the beginning of the semester, the student tried to distance himself from the mother and daughter but was reluctant to express his feelings and told his parents of his discomfort.

“[Student]’s parents contacted his RA, who is required to report the matter to the University,” the document stated.

The student filed for a restraining order, and the restraining order for the daughter was granted, but the one for the academic coach was not. 

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