Feb. 18, 2011 -- Notre Dame University has been hit for a second time in recent months with accusations that it failed to properly investigate an allegation from a young woman that one of its students sexually assaulted a young woman.
The charge is particularly sensitive for Notre Dame, one of the country's most prestigious Catholic universities, because the school is still reeling from the suicide of Elizabeth Seeberg. Seeberg was a 19-year-old student at neighboring St. Mary's College who killed herself Sept. 10, 2010, after Notre Dame did not aggressively pursue her sexual assault complaint, her family has said.
The Seeberg family issued a statement to ABC News today saying "Notre Dames' investigatory process has failed another young woman entrusted to its care."
Both incidents occurred around the same period. Seeberg claimed she was molested Aug. 31 and committed suicide 10 days later.
The new accusation claims another St. Mary's student was sexually assaulted on Sept. 4. According to St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, the woman reported the attack to police within 24 hours, went to a hospital for a rape kit, and met there with Notre Dame police.
At the hospital she was also met by a sexual assault victim's advocate and a nurse trained in sexual assault protocols.
The student, whose name was not released, met again with Notre Dame police on Sept. 11 -- the day after Seeberg's suicide -- at which time she told police she wanted to press charges.
But this past week Dvorak's office told the young woman and her family that it would not proceed with a prosecution because of a lack of evidence.
That decision has angered the student's family. The woman's father told the Chicago Tribune that he had met with the university's president and police to plead for a prosecution.
"I'm involved in this because I love Notre Dame and I don't want to see this happen again," he told the newspaper. "Notre Dame has done so much good over the years, but I think there's an issue that needs to be corrected."
The woman, who admits she had been drinking before the alleged assault, told the Tribune that she felt the police were protecting the university instead of her.
Parents of Elizabeth Seeberg Lash Out at Notre Dame
Dvorak admitted to ABC News that the Notre Dame police did not talk to the suspect until Sept. 16, 11 days after the alleged attack and the suspect said the sex was consensual.
Dvorak stressed that "nothing about the investigation caused us to have any different result…there was insufficient evidence to proceed."
Seeberg's parents, Tom and Mary Seeberg, lashed out at Notre Dame and said there are similarities between the case of their daughter and the second St. Mary's student.
"We are saddened to hear that Notre Dames's investigatory process has failed another young woman entrusted to its care. It is time for change. It is time for leadership. It is time for the university to reexamine its response process when handling allegations of sexual assault. How can Notre Dame be a place of justice if it fails to engage in a serious, timely, and thorough search for the truth?" the parents said in their statement.
"Our focus remains on the next woman who brings such allegations forward. Our prayers are with this young woman, her family and any other women who have been doubly victimized, first by their attacker and secondly by a flawed investigative process," the statement said.
Seeberg's family has been outspoken in their belief that Notre Dame officials did not do enough to investigate the claims of a sexual assault by their daughter. They cite details like the length of time it took Notre Dame officials to interview their daughter's alleged attacker – 14 days - and a lack of cooperation from the school and police in answering their questions.
Notre Dame responded to the new allegations in a statement emailed to ABC News.
"We regret that some are critical of our handling of sexual misconduct allegations, and we understand the pain these families are experiencing. At the same time, we stand behind the thoroughness, integrity and objectivity of our investigations, as well as the comprehensive services available to students who are subjected to sexual misconduct," Notre Dame said.