The Falcons drafted Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo in the fourth round on Saturday, three months after he spoke publicly for the first time about being the player accused of sexual battery in a controversial case from 2010.
A student at St. Mary’s College, the one-time “sister” school to Notre Dame in South Bend, named Lizzy Seeberg reported being touched inappropriately by a member of the Notre Dame football team in early September. Police did not interview Shembo for several weeks, but Seeberg allegedly got text messages warning her not to mess with a Notre Dame football player before killing herself on September 10, 2010.
Shembo was never charged with a crime and said he wanted to speak before the combine, but was barred from doing so by Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. Shembo said he had “remorse for the girl” after being drafted and called it an “unfortunate” but consensual event. Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said that the team felt comfortable with the investigation they did on Shembo and that they had not lowered the character bar to select him.
“We’re very, very aware of the seriousness of the incident,” Dimitroff said, via ESPN.com. “Obviously, it’s a sad situation for the young lady involved. We’ve done a lot of research at many levels from our security standpoint, from all the research that we did at Notre Dame. And he was never charged, never suspended from the team or the school. We’ve done our due diligence as far as making sure that we felt very comfortable with making that decision. Only glowing endorsements from the university. And again, pleased to have him a part of this organization going forward.”
However things work out for Shembo, one would hope that the sad story will lead authorities to do more to quickly investigate claims of sexual misconduct and help those making the accusations move forward without harming themselves or others.