Former Notre Dame linebacker discusses sexual assault allegation

BOB WIENEKE
South Bend Tribune

Former Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo acknowledged Saturday that he was the ND player at the center of a 2010 investigation involving sexual assault allegations made by a Saint Mary’s College student who later committed suicide.

The player’s name had never been made public. Shembo was in Indianapolis on Saturday where he is participating in the NFL Combine, which is being held at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In September 2010, Saint Mary’s College freshman Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide after accusing a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her in an ND residence hall. Notre Dame found the player’s actions did not violate its sexual misconduct policy and the player was not charged.

“I’m innocent,” Shembo told ESPN.com. “I didn’t do anything. I’m, pretty much, I’m the one who ended it and pretty much told the girl that we should stop, that we shouldn’t be doing this and that’s what happened. So, I don’t know.”

In a typed statement Seeberg made for police, Seeberg wrote that the accused male student grabbed her face and kissed her, pulled down her tank top, touched and squeezed her bare breasts, and held her down in his lap, all while she was crying and scared for her safety. A copy of the Sept. 5, 2010 statement was obtained by the Tribune.

Shembo, according to the ESPN story, said when he heard that Seeberg had committed suicide, he had no idea what was going on.

“I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “I was a freshman. I don’t think games even started, and she was older than me.

“I was like, ‘What?’ I was confused. They were asking me questions, and I didn’t know what they were talking about because I didn’t do anything.”

Shembo told ESPN that he is making his first public comments now because Irish coach Brian Kelly “told me I couldn’t’ talk about it.”

“I wanted to talk about it (then),” Shembo said. “I wanted to, but they had to keep everything confidential. Now that I’m out (of school), I can talk about it.”

Shembo told ESPN that he did not lobby Kelly to speak about the issue because he trusted Kelly’s decision.

“We talked about it and we just wanted to keep everything, I mean, I didn’t get in any trouble or anything,” Shembo said. “I wasn’t in trouble with the law or nothing. No reason to talk about it. The reason I wanted to talk was just to clear up my name. My name was in flames, pretty much.”

“I just tell (NFL team executives) the truth, I have nothing to hide,” Shembo told BlueandGold.com, estimating that 26 NFL teams have interviewed him in advance of this spring’s NFL Draft. “No one’s heard from me one time. Do you go off of one person’s story? I’m still here so I know I didn’t do anything. I tell them exactly what happened.”

Shembo told BlueandGold that teams asking him about the matter is not a surprise because “it’s all over the Internet. Everyone that does the background check can type my name in and you’ll see all the stuff that people have said about me and have never heard from my mouth.”

Analyst Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com, in Indianapolis for the Combine, did not seem surprised that Shembo has faced questions from NFL executives about the matter.

“It’s a question mark. We knew teams were going to ask him about that. His name was out there linked to it. It was out there that he was that guy,” Wright said.

“Teams were already doing their due diligence in investigating it. I think when they talk to Shembo at the Combine, they’re going to kind of cross-check, they’re going to ask him. ... They’re going to want to hear his answers and hear him explain it.”

How the matter could affect Shembo’s draft stock is tough to determine.

“It’s kind of hard to say,” Wright said. “We don’t have all the information. Certainly the NFL teams have done their due diligence and they have more insight into it. I hesitate to even comment on it because we just don’t know. If there’s some validity to the accusations, it could affect his stock a lot. If they determine that it was overblown and that he really wasn’t at fault in any shape or manner, it won’t affect him at all.”

Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo (55) acknowledged Saturday that he was the Notre Dame player accused of sexual assault in the 2010 Lizzy Seeburg case. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER via FTP