A former University of Notre Dame student is suing the school, stating that campus officials wanted her to drop a sexual assault complaint against a football player so he could transfer to another school with a clean record.
The lawsuit, which the student filed last month under the alias Jane Doe, reported Doe escorted a drunken player to his dorm room in January 2016 and was assaulted there. She also says the player shattered her cellphone when she tried to call a friend for help.
The athlete, who lost his football scholarship a short time later and left the university, is referred to as “Jack Roe” in the lawsuit. He has not been charged with any crime.
The university released a statement saying the lawsuit contains many inaccuracies, which it will address in court.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
According to the suit, the woman did not report the crime to police or university officials because she feared the player. At the time of the reported assault, she was a student at Holy Cross College in South Bend, Ind., which is affiliated with Notre Dame, and had plans to transfer to the larger university.
“Jane called a classmate in an effort to escape the incident,” the lawsuit states. “In a rage, Roe grabbed her phone and shattered it on the table in his dorm room. That display of violence was a bit suffocating to anyone who would dare breathe a word of it.”
Three months later, a Notre Dame student approached Doe and asked her to support a second woman who said she also had been raped by the player, the lawsuit states. The intervening student then shared Doe’s story in mid-April with the university’s Title IX office, which handles sexual assault and harassment.
The Title IX office contacted Doe, who did not want to file a complaint. The school continued to look into the situation without her assistance and eventually determined the player’s name through other means, according to the lawsuit.
By the time the Title IX office learned the football player’s identity, he already had lost his scholarship because of academic reasons and was looking to transfer to another school, according to a source familiar with the case. The Title IX office placed a hold on any transfer request until the sexual assault case was finished, the source said.
Doe became even more reluctant to participate in the investigation later that spring when a campus official told her the player would be notified of her allegation against him, the lawsuit states. The woman called her father to tell him, for the first time, about the alleged assault and subsequent campus investigation.
Doe and her father both wanted the second woman’s allegation investigated, but they had their doubts about the seriousness of the school’s review and asked that Doe’s name not be disclosed to the football player, according to the lawsuit.
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