R.I.P., Lizzy

My sister sent me a link via e-mail this morning asking, What’s up with this story?

After reading through the story and talking to My Favorite Domer, I feel compelled to respond.

The gist is this: a 19-year-old St. Mary’s College freshman named Lizzy Seeberg and her girlfriend went with two Notre Dame men to the men’s dorm on Aug. 31. The fellow Lizzy was with was an ND football player. After a couple of beers, the foursome went to the football player’s room for a “dance party.” The other couple left, then something happened. Lizzy reportedly was fondled and bullied against her will until the football player’s cell phone interrupted and he “threw her off.” Afterward, Lizzy reported the incident to police. The football player’s story was similar, except he said what happened was consensual. Ten days later, Lizzy was dead after allegedly ingesting an overdose of the anti-depressant Effexor.

This week, the University announced there would be no prosecution, effectively putting the case to an end. Attorneys said the only person who could give Lizzy’s side of the story was Lizzy, yet she’s dead and cannot testify.

So an ugly incident is resolved to nobody’s satisfaction.

In a perfect world, parents wouldn’t have to bury their children. Young women wouldn’t feel so enamored of athletes that they put themselves in compromising situations. Young men wouldn’t take advantage of vulnerable women. Young people wouldn’t resort to suicide to solve temporary problems. And they wouldn’t engage in underage drinking — ever.

Yet we don’t live in a perfect world. Lizzy Seeberg, by her parents’ admission, was “naive” and loved to party. She also battled an anxiety disorder, depression, and panic attacks for years. And the football player reportedly had demons of his own, dealing with issues of aggression and bullying since middle school.

Some have complained that he faced no disciplinary action in the wake of this incident, that he continued playing football for the University even. But if no crime was committed, why punish him? And if a crime was committed and covered up, everybody involved shares in the blame.

While gossiping and finger-pointing might make us feel better, only Lizzy and the unnamed football player really know what happened that night, and they’re not talking.

One no longer can. And that’s sad, very sad.