Hardball | December 06, 2012
>>> this 2010 headline was a look at notre dame university in the way the university handled its student complaint. it reads, notre dame silent on teen's death. she was sexually attacked by a football player. she was a freshman of a sister's school, st. mary's college a few days after reporting the assault. following her report, she received text messages from the friend of the football player including one that said, messing with notre dame football is a bad idea. by the way, there was this 2010 press release which states the office, quote, declined to file criminal charges . a notre dame grad herself who has questioned her ala mater's conduct. her latest is, why i won't be cheering for old notre dame . so explain this story as you came across it and how it fits into the -- well, is there an institutional problem at notre dame ?
>> there is very much a institutional problem at notre dame . they say it's a couple of bad apples who have been accused of sexual assault in one case and a rape in another. well, to me the problem is, that would be enough, you know, my answer to them is, how many predators would have to be on the team before it would make you feel like not cheering? but far worse to me than these horrible attacks, which unfortunately do happen in every institution, on every campus in the country, is the way the men who run notre dame responded to the report, responded to try to cover up what happened, and responded in a very ugly whisper campaign against this poor girl who reported, who did everything right, who reported immediately and who was obviously not taken seriously. they didn't get around to talking to the player till 15 days after her initial report.
>> well, just to show here on air at "hardball," the spokesman wrote to us and said, the local prosecutor examined all of the facts in this case at length and said charges were not warranted. the university's police department investigated the allegations as soon as it was reported taking statements from her and two other students and to reconcile differing versions of what occurred, met with the accused student to hear his story. we acknowledge that the police could have acted a bit more quickly after taking her statements but we also believe it was more important to be thorough than rush to judgment such as has been found in other high-profile cases.
>> well, when they say it could have been done a bit more quickly, 15 days, i've talked to a number of people who work with sexual assaults , with police departments all over the country. you wouldn't find a one that will say it's better to wait and give the accused maximum time to get their stories straight.
>> tell me -- describe the incident for people watching this. was this a date situation? was it a stranger? explain the gravity of the assault. just get it on paper so people know what we're talking about here.
>> so this is a young girl who's new on campus who goes with another st. mary's student to hang out that evening with a couple of guys who have invited them over to their dorm.
>> and what happened?
>> so the other young woman and the other young man leave the room, leave lindsey alone there. she's, by her account, terrified. the guy sexually assaulted --
>> what did he do?
>> started to take her clothes off and, in her view, attack her. so she's a very inexperienced girl. she's terrified. she doesn't want this and she tries to get out of the room. she says, i need to go to the bathroom. he says, there's no bathroom in this dorm. she's like in the middle of a panic attack and of a physical attack. she got rashes when she got very nervous because she suffered from anxiety.
>> so she reported this right away?
>> right away.
>> so she did everything right?
>> she did everything right.
>> and notre dame did not?
>> they did not. but what upsets me is when my fellow alums say there are bad apples on every team. that may well be true. i don't dispute that. but when you're trading on the moral superiority of your institution and running a whisper campaign smearing a dead 19-year-old, that's a problem.
>> i have tremendous respect for you, melinda.
>> thank you.
>> and i love your reporting. i hate this story. i hate its reality. when we return, let me finish with a real danger that awaits when we go over that fiscal cliff. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. s