Student Says Notre Dame Protected Football Player After Sexual Assault Complaint

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: General view of a Notre Dame Fighting Irish helmet on the field during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

A former University of Notre Dame student filed a lawsuit last month alleging school officials urged her to withdraw a sexual assault complaint against an unnamed Fighting Irish football player ahead of his potential transfer to another program. 

On Thursday, Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune provided details of the suit filed in St. Joseph County, Indiana by a woman listed as Jane Doe, who said the football player assaulted her in January 2016 and destroyed her cell phone when she tried to call for help.

The football player left the university after losing his scholarship for academic reasons before Notre Dame's Title IX office contacted Doe about the case. She said the alleged assault wasn't immediately reported to local police or the school because she "feared the player," according to the Chicago Tribune.

"Jane called a classmate in an effort to escape the incident," the lawsuit reads. "In a rage, ['Jack] 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."

The suit also states: "Of course, this made perfect sense if Notre Dame was interested in opening up a scholarship for another football player and sweeping Roe's conduct under the rug, disregarding Jane's interests and serving only their own."

The woman said she didn't bring the story forward until a fellow student asked her to support another woman who alleged the same player raped her. The lawsuit noted she became "reluctant" to remain involved after being informed the player would be notified of her allegation.

St. Clair also provided a statement from Notre Dame on the lawsuit.

"The claim that Notre Dame was motivated to assist the accused student to transfer is one of many false statements in the complaint," university spokesperson Paul Browne said. "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."

The woman is suing the school for "invasion of privacy, breach of contract, negligence and violation of Title IX," according to the report.