The 'Alice in Wonderland' saga of Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o and the girlfriend who turned out to be a hoax has ignited a new round of criticism over the school's handling of a sexual assault allegation against a different football player more than two years ago.
Notre Dame hired a private investigative firm in an attempt to unravel fact from fiction in regard to Te'o and the fictitious girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who was said to have died last fall. Notre Dame athletic directior Jack Swarbrick later held an emotional press conference to defend Te'o and cast him as the victim of a cruel ruse.
That was quite a contrast, critics charge, to the treatment afforded freshman Lizzy Seeberg, who reported to campus police in August 2010 that she'd been sexually assaulted by a football player. Police waited two weeks before interviewing the player. By then, Seeberg had committed suicide. Notre Dame said a "thorough and judicious" investigation was conducted. The player was later found "not responsible" in a closed-door campus judiciary hearing.
As our Kristen Lombardi reported last month, the circumstances surrounding the Seeberg case are actually far from unusual. Colleges have long struggled mightily in their attempts to deal with charges of campus sexual assault.