MU hands Menu Courey sexual assault investigation to Columbia police

Sunday, January 26, 2014 | 11:03 a.m. CST; updated 4:36 p.m. CST, Monday, January 27, 2014

COLUMBIA – MU has passed all relevant information about the alleged sexual assault of Sasha Menu Courey, a former Missouri swimmer, to the Columbia Police Department for a possible investigation. Sunday, UM System President Tim Wolfe announced that he'd asked the Board of Curators to hire an independent counsel to investigate how MU handled the case.

Sunday, two days after ESPN published a story detailing alleged negligence on the university’s part for not investigating the matter, the MU News Bureau put out a news release detailing the university’s plan of action. ESPN aired the story Sunday morning on its program "Outside the Lines."

“As a result of information that first came to the University of Missouri’s attention in a Friday, January 24th report by ESPN’s Outside the Lines program related to former student-athlete Sasha Menu Courey, the MU Police Department submitted information to the Columbia Police Department (CPD) on the evening of Saturday, January 25th,” the news release said. “This information from ESPN’s story included names of individuals who might have relevant information regarding the alleged February 2010 assault.”

The university passed the investigation to Columbia police because the alleged assault took place off campus.

Menu Courey committed suicide on June 17, 2011. An article from the Columbia Daily Tribune on Feb. 21, 2012, revealed Menu Courey believed she had been raped, and an investigation by ESPN began six months later, revealing an online chat transcript with a rape crisis counselor.

Wolfe said in a news release that an independent counsel will investigate how the university handled the case.

“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,” Wolfe said in the release.

Wolfe put the hiring of the counsel in the hands of the board of directors. He also said the investigation would be a way to improve how MU handles such scenarios in the future, with the assistance of funds from the UM System budget if needed.

University spokesman John Fougere told The Missourian via email the Board of Curators will vote on whether to hire an independent investigation firm during its meetings starting Wednesday in Columbia.

The university maintains it did not have enough information to pursue an investigation and that “new information which was previously unavailable to MU” spurred the decision to hand the investigation to the CPD.

“MU first became aware of the alleged assault in late 2012, after Sasha’s June 2011 death, upon reviewing the transcript of an online chat that Sasha conducted with a crisis hotline believed to have taken place in December of 2010,” according to the release. “MU’s Office of Student Conduct asked Sasha’s parents in a letter dated Jan. 28, 2013, if they had any information that would help identify those involved and if they wanted an investigation of the alleged assault to occur, but they did not respond. 

"In the fall of 2013, after continued communication with ESPN through numerous Sunshine requests, MU asked that ESPN share names of anyone at the University who they claimed knew about the alleged assault; they refused.

“Out of respect for the CPD process, MU will not comment on the investigation.”

Menu Courey's parents said Saturday that they still wished for an investigation to take place and that they had tried to reach out to MU multiple times since Feb. 21, 2012, with no success.

— Missourian reporter Brandon Foster contributed to this story.

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Skip Yates January 26, 2014 | 7:18 p.m.

I guess that first, they need determine if there was a sexual assault. And/or what is a criminal sexual assault. From what I read from this, there was unwanted contact for sure; but, when she said "no" it ceased...not something seriously criminal. Or is it?

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