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Prosecutor’s Office declines to prosecute in Seeberg case

Observer Staff Report | Thursday, December 16, 2010

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to prosecute after reviewing the investigation of sexual battery allegations brought by Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg.

Seeberg alleged that a Notre Dame student-athlete sexually assaulted her on Aug. 31. The first year Saint Mary’s student died of an apparent suicide on Sept. 10.

The Office announced in a release today that the decision not to prosecute is based on an investigation done by the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP). The police force turned the investigation over to the Prosecutor’s Office on Sept. 17.

According to the release, Seeberg filed an allegation of sexual battery. She also filed a complaint about a Sept. 2 text message about the incident from a friend of the suspect, also a Notre Dame student. NDSP took statements from Seeberg, a female friend and the two suspects. The investigating officers also recovered the text message.

The release stated that the Office is not prosecuting the suspect on the accusation of sexual battery based on the evidence from the investigation and evidentiary rules involving hearsay, which make it unlikely that Seeberg’s statements would be admissible in court because of her death.

The Office also determined that the text message does not meet requirements for harassment under Indiana law.

Seeberg’s parents met with officials in the Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 1 to discuss the investigation, according to the release.

In an e-mail to the Notre Dame community Thursday, Jan Botz, vice president of the Office of Public Affairs and Communications, said the University cannot comment on the allegations. She cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits universities from publicly discussing specific disciplinary cases, she said in the e-mail.

Notre Dame will continue to follow its internal investigation processes, University spokesman Dennis Brown said in a Thursday statement.

“Notre Dame takes allegations about potential violations of the law or University policy very seriously and that’s exactly why we have such a thorough process in place to pursue the facts and make determinations about right or wrong,” he said. “The prosecutor also has a process in place in which he knows all of the facts. He has made a decision and issued a statement that speaks for itself.”