Columbia Police Department launches investigation into alleged rape of Sasha Menu Courey

Monday, January 27, 2014 | 4:24 p.m. CST; updated 9:46 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 28, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Police Department announced it has begun a preliminary investigation into the alleged sexual assault of former Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey.

Sgt. Joe Bernhard released information Monday from the CPD on the case.

“The Criminal Investigation Division will review the information available about the case,” Bernhard said in a statement. “Detectives will follow up on the leads the information contains and decide what course of action is best. The Department will not make any further comment on the details of the investigation as it is an ongoing sexual assault case.”

Those with information on the case are encouraged by the police to contact the department at 442-6131 or at its anonymous line at 875-8477.

The sexual assault allegedly took place in February 2010 in the 600 block of Huntridge Drive. MU announced Sunday it had released materials relevant to a possible investigation to the Columbia police because the alleged assault took place off campus.

A 16-month investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” revealed the university had access to materials that suggested an assault had taken place at least as early as Feb. 21, 2012, the day an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune that contained that information was published.

“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.”

University System President Tim Wolfe sent a message to university chancellors Sunday calling for a review of the campuses’ policies regarding sexual assault and also a third-party investigation into whether there was any wrongdoing on MU’s part in regards to the Menu Courey case. The Board of Curators will decide whether or not to hire an investigation firm during its meetings from Wednesday through Friday in the Reynolds Alumni Center.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is a Missouri alumna and former prosecutor, also released a statement on the case.

"As a mother of a daughter in college, my heart breaks for this young woman and her family,” she said in the statement Saturday. “We must create a safe space for all women to report sexual assault to law enforcement — and no matter who the alleged perpetrator is, there must be a thorough and professional investigation. There are real questions about why none of that happened in this case, and it's important the University figure out why and what must be done to fix it."

Mike Menu and Lynn Courey told the Missourian on Saturday that they still wanted an investigation to take place. They also released a statement in the wake of the news.

“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,” Menu Courey’s sister, Kayla, wrote in the statement. “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.”

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