Alleged victim accuses 1 former, 3 current Irish football players
By HELENA PAYNE
St. Joseph County police are investigating the alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old female Notre Dame student by four male Notre Dame students.
Maj. Bob Finn, public information officer for the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department, said the alleged rape occurred at about 4 a.m. on March 28 in a house near Indiana 23 and Ironwood Road, just outside South Bend city limits.
In an interview with The Observer Wednesday, the alleged victim said she was assaulted by three Notre Dame football players currently on the spring roster and one former member of the team. Police would not confirm that information, but the alleged victim said the men were her acquaintances.
Because of the high profile of the alleged assailants, the alleged victim said she waited five days before going to the hospital and nine days before filing a report with police.
"I just imagined turning on the TV and seeing my face on ESPN," said the alleged victim, adding that she was unsure of her rights at the time.
Notre Dame is also privately investigating the situation as a matter of procedure, according to University spokesman Dennis Moore.
"The University is aware of a police investigation involving Notre Dame students," Moore said. "In such circumstances the University also conducts its own investigation according to its student disciplinary procedures."
No players were suspended from football practice Tuesday for disciplinary reasons, John Heisler, associate athletic director, told The Associated Press. The team does not practice on Wednesdays during the spring.
"There are University guidelines that govern all students," Notre Dame head football coach Tyrone Willingham said after Tuesday's practice. "We are no different. We work by those and through those."
The alleged victim told South Bend police she left a local bar with the four male students expecting to go to an off-campus party. However, she said she realized there was no party when she reached the house.
The woman told police she tried to resist, but she was unable to escape from the men, who each allegedly raped her. Afterward, one of the alleged attackers drove the woman back to campus.
Over the course of three hours earlier in the night, the alleged victim said she had had no more than three alcoholic drinks while dancing. She said she felt sober when she left the bar with her alleged assailants because she had consumed her last drink about 90 minutes earlier.
"I wish I didn't remember every single thing," the woman said.
Although she originally reported the alleged assault to South Bend police, because the alleged incident occurred outside city limits, the case was turned over to county police. Finn said police are completing the investigation that began April 1.
The alleged victim said she is currently working with detectives and intends to press charges. Finn said the case will be referred to the county prosecutor soon.
According to Moore, the University's private investigation is closed due to the Federal Education Records Protection Act, which protects the privacy of student records.
"When it comes to the police investigation, we're not a part of that, or if we are, it's in a very peripheral way," Moore said. "When it comes to whatever we do internally, that is a student confidentiality matter."
The alleged victim said she took her case to the Office of Residence Life and Housing and submitted an eight-page statement detailing the events of her alleged assault. Both the alleged victim and the alleged assailants will have a scheduled hearing with ResLife Wednesday.
All News Stories for Thursday, April 11, 2002