Matt C. Abbott
November 22, 2010
Is another Notre Dame scandal brewing?
By Matt C. Abbott

A female student who attended St. Mary's College committed suicide after she was allegedly sexually attacked by one of Notre Dame's football players — and the university has seemingly swept it under the rug — according to a Nov. 21 story in the Chicago Tribune.

Click here to read the story.

Noted Catholic scholar Charles E. Rice, professor emeritus at Notre Dame Law School, has issued the following statement (slightly edited) in response to the Tribune story and the scandalous actions of Notre Dame's president, Father John Jenkins, in recent times:

    Notre Dame is obliged to report any serious accusation of sexual assault, or other on-campus crime, to the county police and prosecutor. We await further revelation of facts as to whether this obligation was fulfilled in this newly-disclosed case of Elizabeth Seeberg. One gets the impression, however, that little confidence can be reposed in the Notre Dame administration to fulfill its obligation of simple candor in prosecutorial matters.

    Consider, for example, the continuing prosecution of the ND88, the pro-life protestors who, on the complaint of Notre Dame, were arrested at the graduation events of 2009 at which President Obama received Notre Dame's highest honor. The criminal prosecution of those ND88 continues because Notre Dame refuses to request that it be discontinued. Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, claims that Notre Dame cannot ask the prosecutor to dismiss the charges because the university treats all demonstrators equally.

    William Dempsey, president of the Sycamore Trust, demonstrated in extensive correspondence with Father Jenkins and Dennis Brown, his spokesperson, in February and March 2010, that Notre Dame had declined to prosecute gay-rights and anti-ROTC demonstrators as recently as 2007 and there were no contrary examples up to the time of the Obama commencement.

    Despite the careful and irrefutable demonstration to Father Jenkins by Mr. Dempsey of the non-prosecution of those gay-rights and anti-ROTC demonstrators, Father Jenkins later restated forcefully on April 30, 2010, that 'the [u]niversity cannot have one set of rules for causes we oppose, and another more lenient set of rules for causes we support. We have one consistent set of rules for demonstrations on campus — no matter what the cause.' That statement is untrue. And, unless he has the excuse of delusion, Father Jenkins had to know it was untrue.

    If we are dealing with a knowingly and unequivocally false statement by Notre Dame's president on a subject seriously affecting Notre Dame, that is an extremely grave matter for which resignation or dismissal is the only remedy. Notre Dame, in reliance on the patently false claim that it treats all demonstrators equally, continues to subject the ND88 to legal prosecution and serious costs that it never imposed on politically correct gay-rights and anti-ROTC demonstrators.

    There was a day when a Notre Dame administrator's word could be taken to the bank. But that was 'back in the day.' This is, today, a university governed by academic ruling class 'wannabes' who have made political correctness, in dominant respects, the official religion of Notre Dame. So: Pray for Elizabeth Seeberg and her family, as well as her alleged assailant, as we ought to pray for Declan Sullivan, another victim of university fault, and for his family. Pray for the ND88, who deserve the respect — rather than the prosecution — of the university. Pray for Notre Dame and its administrators. And, while you're at it, pray for our country.

Related link:

The ND88

Nov. 24 update:

"Stories shift in Notre Dame case"

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at

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