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Notre Dame's Response to Lizzy Seeberg Compared to Manti Te'o

Publications across the country have scrutinized the university's immediate response to Te'o's fake girlfriend hoax compared to what many see as the slower response after Seeberg's sexual assault accusation, which led to her suicide.

The University of Notre Dame's response to the recent scandal over Manti Te'o's online dating hoax has been the subject of scrutiny as compared to the Indiana school's investigation of Elizabeth Seeberg's 2010 suicide

Seeberg, who grew up in Northbrook, killed herself 10 days after accusing a Notre Dame football player of sexual assault, according to the National Catholic Reporter

New York Magazine laid out the contrast bluntly with a single headline. Notre Dame Finds Fake Dead Woman Easier to Talk About Than Real Dead Woman. A Salon headline reads: "Notre Dame’s real dead woman: Manti Te'o's soap opera moves the school's athletic director to tears, while Lizzy Seeberg's suicide is ignored"

And in USA Today, Christine Brennan writes, "The peculiar mysteries at Notre Dame are almost too numerous to detail today, but one stands out among all the rest: Why did the university show more public concern for a fake dead woman than a real one?"

Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown told the Huffington Post in a recent email, regarding the Seeberg investigation, "Yes, we could have acted a bit more quickly, but we believe it was better to be thorough than fast in order to avoid the rush to judgment that has taken place in other high-profile cases." 

It took Notre Dame investigators five days afer Seeberg's suicide to interview the accused football player, according to the National Catholic Reporter. He was later acquitted of all charges and remains unnamed. 

In contrast, the university's response to the ongoing saga of Te'o's fake, Internet girlfriend garnered a much faster, and more emotional response. 

Shortly after news of Te'o's controversy broke, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a press conference where he said “Every single thing about this was real to Manti. There was no suspicion. The grief was real, the affection was real, and that’s the sad nature of this cruel game,” The Nation reports.

The athletic director cried, announced private detectives were hired and referred to the situation as a "cruel game," according to The Nation. 

What do you think: Do the stories of Seeberg's tragedy and Te'o's hoax deserve comparison? Was Notre Dame's response in either event appropriate?

Jennifer January 25, 2013 at 11:39 PM
As usual I am thoroughly DISGUSTED by the LACK of RESPONSE/REACTION to this young girl's tragedy, it reminds me of a very high profile case this past year, in which once again the alleged perpetrator was held in the highest regard even as evidence of many other similar transgressions were coming to light very quickly - anyone remember the Sandusky case? NO WONDER that very few victims of sexual assault ever come forward!!! Next to no-one reports being sexually assaulted because the risk of being ostracized and being painted as a SLUT is too great emotionally for nearly everyone. Our prayers go out to Lizzy's Family for the loss of this Beautiful young girl, no-one should have to go through a tragedy such as this because the Image and Reputation of the local University Football Team is MORE IMPORTANT than that of their beloved daughter.
Kathleen DiClementi January 26, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Look what is going on in Ohio! The high school football players had their crime brought to light by social media, and the town dragged its feet until the mainstream media picked up the story.
Judy Zimmerman January 26, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Thank you for keeping Lizzy's story alive. I had heard about her through a friend of a friend when it happened and have often thought of her and her family and been appalled that nothing was done about this. I can't even look at their football team and must say this culture of sports-hero-worship is much to blame. I was glad to see Gail Collins of the New York Times also mentioned Lizzy. We will not forget her.
Fancy Feet January 26, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I know Lizzy's family and think about and pray for them all the time. I can't imagine losing my child in that way and then have an institution like ND try to sweep it under the rug. I wanted to puke when some of my facebook friends who cheer for ND were re-posting crass jokes like: "Golden Domes vs trailer homes" before that national championship game. I Don't really care about football that much, but I became a Crimson Tide fan at that very moment, and was SO glad they slammed it down ND's throat! Maybe I feel sorry for Manti too, but ND and it's focus on praying to the false god of football just makes me sick! They have become yet another stain not only on the catholic church, but on college atheletics and higher education in this country.
John Breen January 26, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Our Lady of the Lake still cries for Elizabeth Seeburg. And the cold hard diciples of Fr. Hesburgh still won't hear her. Shame!
Beeper January 26, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Sounds like the culture of Penn State! Protect football no matter what! Very sad--- in the real world, there is actually more than football to care about! Somebody needs to tell the administration that we are in the real world and it would be nice for them to join us.
Silvio Dante January 27, 2013 at 06:56 AM
I do not know how anyone can trust ND with the safety of their children. Let's not forget about the taping of football practice in 40Mph winds. Coupled with Elizabeth Seeburg, ND should feel shame but it does not. Food for thought: These are the tragic stories that we know about. Imagine all the disgusting details of the scandals at ND that we will never hear about. Without a doubt, those hidden scandals would make all of us sick.
Roni Pressler January 31, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Another Parent... Lizzy Seeburg's case is the saddest ever and the Manti case is pitiful. However, the real message to send to all our teenagers is that NOTHING is worth taking your life. Regardless of the gravity, tell someone, tell anyone, that you feel really bad and need help to feel better!!! We live in a wonderful community and everyone wants all of you to feel good about your life. Your friends love you and your parents and neighbors love you and are here for you!!! Let us help you!!! Tell your parent, tell your friend, tell your teacher!!! You are not invisible!!!
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:38 AM
I'm late in responding to your article regarding Notre Dame's investigation of Ms. Seeberg's accusations of rape. There were no charges brought against the accused football player not just because the victim was dead. There were other reasons which you chose to not discuss. If you had, then you might be seen as engaging in a double standard of your own..
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:40 AM
While I am extremely sympathetic to the parents of Ms. Seeberg whose daughter’s death was referenced in the article just cited, I am equally sympathetic to the parents of the Notre Dame football player accused of sexual assault. How about you? Anyone else think the parents of the football player have a reason to be concerned with his automatic condemnation of guilt?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:40 AM
After the alleged incident Ms. Seeberg received treatment at local South Bend hospital, and consented to a DNA evidence kit, and was offered counseling. Obviously she claimed she had been raped, or why else was she offered the DNA evidence kit?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:40 AM
However, ever since this story broke, all that's been revealed indicates that there was no rape, no DNA to sample, and there was evidence of violence. That would cause anyone to begin to question the accuracy of her recollection of the encounter with the Notre Dame football player. Or do you believe the hospital staff was in on the plot with Notre Dame to turn a blind eye to her accusations.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:41 AM
But, so what if reporting that there was a “sexual assault” is hyperbolic in this case. It helped sell newspapers when coupled with the name Notre Dame much the same as it would for the National Enquirer. Right?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:42 AM
“Sexual assault” under Indiana’s criminal code means rape. “Sexual battery” under Indiana’s criminal code that means any touching of an intimate part of a person's body without their consent that a reasonable person would consider offensive and which is meant to be sexually gratifying.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:42 AM
That can encompass "petting" of the other person when that person objects to it. It should come as no surprise that encounters between young men and women alone with each other can involve at least this much, and it seems that nothing beyond might have happened.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:42 AM
The alleged assault was to have occurred in the dorm room of the Notre Dame football player accused by her of having sexually assaulted her. The alleged attack was said to have taken place by Ms. Seeberg after the player's friend and his friend's girlfriend left the room.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Supposedly per Ms. Seebrerg, the “sexual assault” or attempted sexual assault was interrupted when the accused football player answer his telephone. She then left, weeping. Now, how likely is a male perpetrator hell bent on committing rape going to interrupt his criminal act in order to answer his phone?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:43 AM
No students in the dorm that night heard any screams or loud protests from Ms. Seeberg. And so we had only two witnesses to the event: Ms. Seeberg being one, and who was known to have suffered from deep depression and to have an anxiety disorder.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:43 AM
One of the symptoms of her illiness is irrational fears and misapprehension of possible or impending harm. Still, even now in hindsight, there has not been any question by any news account of the story as to how Ms. Seeberg's illiness could have affected her perception of the encounter with the Notre Dame football player.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:44 AM
That's not attacking the dead victim. That's raising a fair question that I would expect that the parents of the football player would want to have answered. Just asking a question that may point to the possibility of there being two victims involved in this case.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:44 AM
However, the court of public opinion, being avid National Enquirer readers, love to think otherwise. The allegations contained in that story are just too juicy to doubt their veracity. Just let the accused dangle in the wind of “informed” public opinion, right?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:45 AM
Besides having gone to the hospital for a DNA evidence kit, Ms. Seeberg also filed a report with Notre Dame campus police. One law enforcement record showed that she also received assistance from the Belles Against Violence, a program that helps victims of sex crimes. That program was offered by Ms. Seeberg’s college, on the campus of St. Mary’s College.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:45 AM
The Notre Dame campus police are being blamed in the press and in the court of public opinion for her suicide. Yes, the investigation by ND campus police was not diligent, but the Notre Dame Campus police investigator, upon being handed her written statement of the incident by Ms. Seeberg herself, told her that she could press criminal charges by sending her written statement of the incident to the St. Joe County prosecutor’s office.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:46 AM
In any case, putting the Notre Dame campus police front and center as the responsible agency for her suicide is way off the mark. Ms. Seeberg’s care after the incident was more the responsibility of her own college, and.... her parents.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:46 AM
What was her parent’s reaction in seeing to her care? They lived in the Chicago suburbs just a two hours’ drive away. Did they go see their daughter, especially since they knew of her illness and of her heightened vulnerability and the weakness her psyche? My understanding is that they never visited their daughter prior to her suicide. With their better knowledge of the risks to her well-being, what were they thinking? Over a week passed between the alleged sexual assault and her suicide.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:47 AM
The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office decided not to press charges against any Notre Dame student in Lizzy Seeberg's case. A Mr. Michael Dvorak, writing on the Office's behalf, said that there were conflicts in the witness testimonials, and that subpoenaed phone records conflicted with Seeberg's complaint. Can you connect the dots too?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:47 AM
I have a daughter and a son. In the same circumstances I would have been to see my own daughter in a heartbeat. In the same circumstances, I would also have been to see my own son in a heartbeat as well if he were likewise accused.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Any of you have sons besides daughters? Ought we not be concerned with both?
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:55 AM
What I encounter here in reading comments is the the mindset of a good old fashion lynch mob.
knute rocknee's ghost February 10, 2013 at 05:59 AM
Prejudice is ugly.

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