Last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, former Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo acknowledged for the first time publicly that he was the Irish football player involved in the sexual assault allegations made by a Saint Mary’s College student who ended up committing suicide back in 2010. Shembo also stated that the university did not want him to speak on the matter, even as rumors of his alleged involvement with the victim, Lizzie Seeberg, were swirling across Internet message boards.
Suffice to say, Shembo’s former head coach has a different view as to how the situation played out.
Speaking ahead of the start of spring practice, Brian Kelly stated it was a “collaborative” decision for Shembo, who was never charged in connection to the alleged rape, to stay silent on the allegations. Not once, Kelly said, was the former player barred from speaking on it or threatened with punitive measures if he did address it.
In fact, Kelly added, the decision to speak or not was left solely up to Shembo.
“We made a decision based upon the information we had,” Kelly said according to the Chicago Tribune. “We felt it was in Prince’s best interest that this was not a matter that needed to be discuss. But that was certainly something he could have decided to discuss.
“We didn’t threaten him with he couldn’t play or we were going to put him on the bench or we were going to throw him out of school. It was still his decision.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the Seeberg case, the Tribune succinctly sums up the timeline and circumstances surrounding the controversy:
The Tribune in November 2010 reported that campus authorities did not initially tell county police about Seeberg’s report of a sexual attack, nor did campus police refer the case to the county’s special victims unit, which was established to handle sex offenses.
Seeberg, who battled depression and an anxiety disorder, described her account of what happened Aug. 31, 2010, in a typed statement she gave to campus police. On Sept. 2 she received a text message from one of Shembo’s friends, telling her, “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.”
She killed herself Sept. 10, 2010, overdosing on prescription medication.
As we have previously written, the university found the player’s actions did not violate its sexual misconduct policy and it was decided that the player would not be charged.