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Assault investigation continues as ‘rape case’

John-Paul Witt | Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) continued to investigate a sexual assault reported by a female student, and officials said they could not provide a timeline for any potential charges to be filed.

A female student was sexually assaulted on the weekend of March 24, according to an NDSP e-mail sent to the student body on March 26.

According to information released on the NDSP crime blotter, the assault occurred at 11 p.m. on March 25 near the Eck Tennis Center. The email states the assault occurred on March 24.

The blotter names the offense as “rape” and Notre Dame Security Police Director Phil Johnson said that the case is currently “assigned to an investigator.”

“The case remains under investigation,” Johnson said. “The decision to file charges is up to the prosecutor.”

Johnson said the amount of time it will take to be investigated is unknown, as it varies from case to case.

“It’s hard to say,” Johnson said. “The length of the investigation is determined by the complexity of a crime, interviews, and the evidence gathered.”

Because the investigation is ongoing, Johnson declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

University spokesperson Don Wycliff said that the Notre Dame community is not immune from assaults and that the situation is “especially difficult in the case of an acquaintance committing the assault.”

“We don’t take the safety of any student, male or female, lightly,” Wycliff said. “Notre Dame is not a sanctuary. Bad things occasionally happen.”

University Victim’s Resource Person Ava Preacher offered advice to students who are victims of assault.

“Immediately after being assaulted, go to the hospital and get an exam. Be careful not to shower or go to the bathroom, as that could destroy evidence,” Preacher said.

In addition, Preacher said all people who are sexually assaulted should talk about their experiences to a professional counselor, as well as with someone who can inform them of their options depending on when a person chooses to report the assault.

Hall staffs are also concerned about sexual assaults on campus. Sister Denise Lyon, I.H.M., the rector of Badin Hall, said that rapes at Notre Dame are “inevitable.”

“There have been rapes, and there will be rapes,” Lyon said. “After someone has been raped, it’s [our job] to put the girl in touch with the people who can help her. Rectors, ARs, and RAs all receive training on how to help people with this.”

While students are aware of this, Lyon said, it’s important not to think that “[rapes] are going to happen, but not to me.”