by Abbie Nehring, Propublica
Update July 29: We have updated this article to include the responses universities gave to the stories.
So how are colleges failing to protect students from sexual assault? We sorted through the reporting to highlight a few cases that show the system’s greatest shortcomings.
When Football Goes on Trial
Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide ten days after reporting to Notre Dame campus police that she had been sexually assaulted by a Fighting Irish linebacker. As news of the allegations spread, Seeberg was threatened by the player’s teammates. “Don’t do anything you would regret,” one texted her. “Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.” The campus authorities didn’t interview the accused player until 15 days after receiving Seeberg’s statement, five days after she committed suicide. The police declined to bring charges and Notre Dame declined to discuss the case when it was first reported.
Since 2010, there have been investigations into rape and sexual assault by football players at the University of Missouri, Baylor College, the US Naval Academy, University of Texas, Vanderbilt, Appalachian State, and numerous others.
And officials have frequently faced scrutiny for their response. When a freshman at Florida State University reported that star quarterback Jameis Winston had raped her, the case was kept under wraps until TMZ broke the news. The New York Times later detailed how authorities failed to promptly investigate even though records show that the athletic department knew about it less than a month after the victim came forward. The university declined to speak to the Times about the case, citing privacy laws.