University of Missouri Responds to Report Surrounding Alleged Rape Investigation

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University of Missouri Responds to Report Surrounding Alleged Rape Investigation
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Updates from Thursday, Jan. 30

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports spoke with Sasha Menu Courey's mother Lynn about her daughter:

"It's very difficult, very emotional," Lynn Courey told CBSSports.com by phone from the parents' home in Toronto. "We're talking about our daughter. We wanted to do her justice and make sure she didn't die in vain ...

"My daughter killed her herself because she was raped and not supported. The system did not support her ... This has to change. This has to stop."

(...)

"I believe people are hiding right now and not saying what they know about the story," Lynn Courey said. "She was so afraid to talk about it [so much] that she kept it in inside. This ate her alive. She just couldn't sustain unbearable pain.

"I always say, my daughter didn't want to kill herself."

(...)

"We're very happy, were very pleased there's finally an investigation," Lynn Courey said. "What's sad is if it had been done earlier. This is where I'm crying -- crying out loud. If Sasha told you something, please come forward and make justice and do the right thing."

Updates from Monday, Jan. 27

Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the latest on the allegations against the University of Missouri:

Matter later had more details on the investigation:

On Saturday, Columbia police received information from the University of Missouri Police Department regarding the possible rape of Menu Courey in February 2010, the department announced in a statement Monday. The incident possibly occurred in the 600 block of Huntridge Drive, which is located in a neighborhood south of the Mizzou campus. The assault had not previously been reported to Columbia police.

The Columbia police Criminal Investigation Division will review the available information, and detectives will follow up on any leads, the statement read. The department will not make any further comment on the investigation.

 

Updates from Sunday, Jan. 26

The University of Missouri has responded to the Outside the Lines report that the school failed to properly investigate an alleged rape:

ESPN's story identifies four points at which the University allegedly had information about a sexual assault against Sasha and claims that the University should have done more to address the alleged assault. But a look at the facts on each of those points shows that the claims in the ESPN story are skewed and unfair. ...

... It is important to point out this type of skewed and flawed reporting because it is dangerous. Victims of sexual assault need to know that they can seek medical care without the concern that reports will be made to police or campus officials without their consent. Otherwise some victims will be deterred from seeking medical care. ...

... We continue to believe that the University did the right thing in trying to be respectful of Sasha's parents and determine their wishes. We think it is strange and inappropriate for the University to be criticized for not undertaking an investigation when Sasha's parents chose not to respond to our request for their input. If they wanted an investigation, they simply could have responded or made a report to law enforcement. Instead, it appears that great lengths have been taken to paint the University in a bad light simply because it asked Sasha's parents about their wishes rather than immediately launching an investigation based on a highly ambiguous chat transcript.

For the full four-point response, visit MUTigers.com.

Later in the day, Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports reported that Missouri now plans to take further action:

University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe has asked for an independent investigation into Missouri's handling of an alleged sexual assault of a former swimmer at the university. ...

... "I am asking the board of curators to hire outside independent counsel to conduct an investigation of MU’s handling of matters related to Ms. Courey," Wolfe wrote. "Such an independent review will be beneficial to all our campuses so that we can determine if there were any shortcomings with respect to MU’s handling of this matter and, if so, ways in which to improve the handling of such matters in the future.

"At the same time, I am directing each of you to lead a comprehensive review of your campuses' respective policies, training and procedures concerning the prevention and reporting of sexual assaults and the availability of mental health services. We must ensure that each of our campuses has the necessary resources to educate the campus community about sexual assault and prevention, as well as an effective process for reporting such incidents, plus adequate capacity to address mental health issues among our students, faculty and staff. Once we have done a complete examination of our policies and procedures on our campuses and identified any areas of need, I am pledging to make available any additional resources, including funding from the UM System budget, to our campuses to ensure that we are addressing this issue in the appropriate manner. As leaders of our campuses, I am asking you to also volunteer new ideas and new investments that are necessary to ensure the safety of our students."

Wolfe emailed the chancellors of Missouri's four campuses to alert them of the upcoming investigation.

 

---Original Text---

A new investigation into an alleged rape at the University of Missouri claims school administrators and athletics department officials failed to investigate the matter despite learning of it no later than 2012.

Tom Farrey and Nicole Noren of ESPN.com passed along the findings from a 16-month investigation by Outside the Lines. The report concerns the story of former Tigers swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, who committed suicide in June of 2011.

The incident in question reportedly occurred in February of 2010. That's when Menu Courey believed she was raped by an unidentified member of the Missouri football team after having consensual sex earlier that night.

In a chat transcript with a rape crisis counselor, which was discovered after her death, she explained the feeling of fear when another person entered the room:

[We] were falling asleep & then i heard the [door] open & some other guy walked in & locked the door & i couldn't really see who it was & i never saw a face the whole time.... but i remember just sitting upright in bed at the sound of someone walking in. & i just remember feeling really scared thinking that the two guys had planned this or something. so my first thought was figure out who this other person was in case so that if i needed the information i would have it later... the guy told me his name & then he pulled down his pants & put on a condom & just knew i was screwed ...

Another version of the events came from Rolandis Woodland, a member of the football team at the time. He told Outside the Lines there were actually three people involved in the alleged assault, but Menu Courey didn't realize that due to intoxication and the fact that it took place in a dark room.

He said there was a videotape sent to him by Menu Courey before her death that showed the dark room on the night of the apparent incident. He also approached the players after that, and while one admitted having sex with her, he denied it was against her consent.

Woodland explained what the tape showed, but told those researching the story that the video had since been misplaced by family and not found:

You could see her saying "No, no," hysterically crying. She uses the name of [redacted player] when she tells him to get off of her, and he says, "It's only me." They dim the lights and you could see them switching [assaulting] her but you cannot see who was switching because the lights were dimmed. About three minutes into the tape, she pushed whoever was on her off of her and ran out of the room.

Outside the Lines opted to withhold the names accused of the alleged rape because it never became a criminal investigation.

Menu Courey struggled with the situation. A timeline provided by ESPN shows she began receiving counseling but didn't notify anybody about the situation directly until 10 months later, sharing her story with a university therapist.

There is no sign anybody from the athletics department heard about it until May of 2011. That's when the former swimmer wrote in her journal that she alerted athletics staffer Meghan Anderson, who denies being told anything at that time.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press
Missouri Director of Athletics Mike Alden

Other members of the athletics department received a message from a member of athletics director Mike Alden's staff, letting them know of an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, in which Menu Courey's parents talk about her journal entries mentioning the rape.

The Outside the Lines investigation shows the athletics department didn't use the information from the article to alert police or begin its own probe of the account.

In another journal entry passed along by ESPN, Menu Courey wrote about why she didn't go to police, citing concerns about not getting anything out of an investigation.

When pressed on why the university didn't investigate, athletics department spokesman Chad Moller told Outside the Lines the information wasn't received until after her death and didn't amount to enough to begin looking into the matter with Title IX:

The chat transcript was not very clear about the situation and didn't identify anyone else involved, nor did it give any indication that Sasha had reported the situation to anyone.

No one on the coaching staff … and no one in our administration nor any staff members were, to the best of our knowledge, ever told about this event while Sasha was alive. Had Sasha told any of our staff that she felt she had been assaulted, we expect that our staff would have reported it immediately to the proper authorities.

Moller also responded to an e-mail from Noren, as provided by Missouri's athletics site, in which he expresses serious concerns about the story:

If your story is going to suggest that MU officials should have known of the sexual incident while Sasha was a student because she had reported something about it to medical personnel employed at MU, we strongly request that you revisit the story and reconsider the approach. Obviously, we’re concerned that the story is going to unjustifiably cast MU in a bad light. I've already written to you in that general regard. But our concern on this issue goes well beyond that.

Nicole, your organization could contribute to some real harm here if the story gets this wrong. If there’s a perception that medical personnel employed at universities should or must report sexual assaults to police or campus administration whenever a student discusses a sexual assault in seeking medical help, it could discourage victims of sexual assault from seeking treatment at the time of the assault or discussing it in connection with later treatment. That’s why university policies (like those noted above) make it a point to inform students that they can get treatment confidentially.

The Outside the Lines report concludes by stating Menu Courey's parents hope the information as a whole will lead to an investigation.

Aside from confirming they have received no reports on the subject, campus police, city police and the county prosecutor's office had no other information to provide, according to the report.

 

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