COLUMBIA — The parents of an MU student who committed suicide in 2011 issued a statement in response to the university's decision to hand over the investigation to the Columbia Police Department.
Sasha Menu Courey was an MU student and swimmer when she told several people, including a rape crisis counselor, that she was raped by a member of the football team in February 2010.
At the Columbia Missourian, our ongoing coverage of the problem of sexual assault aims to educate readers and encourage productive dialogue. Read our discussion guide here.
In email correspondence between ESPN reporters and the MU athletics department, spokesman Chad Moller said the athletics staff had no knowledge of Menu Courey's allegations until after her suicide.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" published an investigation last week detailing Menu Courey's correspondence about the assault and alleging the university's negligence for failing to investigate. Under an interpretation of Title IX, universities that receive public funding are required to respond to sex discrimination in the form of sexual harassment or sexual violence against its students.
The Columbia Police Department confirmed in a statement Monday that it had received information about the case from the university. The department said in a news release that the incident possibly occurred in the 600 block of Huntridge Drive. No other details or comment will be available about the investigation because it is an ongoing sexual assault case, police said.
After the ESPN report aired on Sunday, UM System President Tim Wolfe announced that the Board of Curators would vote at this week's meeting to determine whether an independent investigator will be hired to look into whether the university properly responded to Menu Courey's allegations.
The text of the family's statement is below:
"The family and friends of Sasha Menu Courey are pleased to hear that the University of Missouri is initiating an independent investigation into its handling of the alleged sexual assault and matters related to mental illness. The family feel that it is not until universities are willing to take responsibility for the seriousness of these issues that young people will be safe on campuses and families can rest easy knowing that others will not have to go through the horror that they and Sasha went through. The system failed Sasha in many ways.
"Sasha’s sister, who is currently a university student, has the following to say: 'It is my hope that we do not lose sight of our ultimate goal of removing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. We are striving for a change for the better. I think it is important to highlight that our goal is not to point fingers, place blame or bring anyone down, but is rather to take action and transform the way students struggling with mental health issues are supported. My sister went through what my mother calls a perfect storm of unfortunate events that led to her suicide. Out of this, I hope to see a transformation of the process in how colleges and universities deal with students struggling with mental health issues, whether they are athletes or not. This will never bring Sasha back, but it is something we do have the opportunity to change now to prevent another situation like this to occur again.'
"Although we cannot change the past, we hope that the issues uncovered by ESPN and lessons learned from the upcoming investigations will lead to positive changes for future athletes and students. The system failed Sasha and we can't let this happen to anyone else.
"In Sasha’s memory, the Sashbear Foundation, was created with the vision of Making Waves on Mental Health by building environments for the advancement of life coping skills. The foundation’s goal is to lead a mental health reform by promoting awareness for the need of early prevention, recognition, timely intervention and access to affordable treatment of individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. For more information on this topic, please visit www.sashbear.org."