University of Missouri on the defense after ESPN reports swimmer’s alleged rape, suicide

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COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The University of Missouri is launching an independent investigation into allegations that several football players raped an MU swimmer.

That swimmer, 20-year-old swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, killed herself three years ago, but a recent report airing on ESPN initiated new calls into investigation.

Mizzou officials are upset with ESPN's report, which suggests the University should've done more to investigate these allegations of rape.

Mizzou officials said there was no cover up. They simply did not know about the allegations since the alleged victim only shared the information with a counselor and never went to police.

Mizzou defended the counselor for not going to police, saying on its athletic website, "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."

Courey went to the MU psychiatric ward in the spring of 2011 and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She told the counselor a football player raped her in February of 2010. And a football friend of hers says he saw video of at least three football players assaulting her.

After ESPN's report on Outside the Lines Friday, Mizzou officials sent three releases to defend its lack of action.

Mizzou officials said they have forwarded all information to Columbia, Mo., police since the alleged assault happened off campus. Missouri University has put some of the blame on Sasha's parents, saying, "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."

Sasha's parents told ESPN they didn't trust Mizzou officials since the University was slow to react to their request for information after their daughter's death.

Regardless, an investigation is now underway to see if the University reacted the right way and discover if Sasha was raped.

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  • Adam

    As a MU fan, I am appalled by the University’s handling of this in every way. And then to partially blame the parents for not doing what the University failed to do -Reporting it, because they didn’t know the family’s wishes… Now blaming ESPN. The University quickly changed their thought process ONCE the story aired.

    • Joe

      Adam: Why would the responsibility of reporting the crime be that of the University? I would think that the young woman and her parents should have been the driving force behind the investigation. Many people do not want the rape reported because of the shame and embarrassment they feel. Prayers for her family because this has to be devastating to them.

  • Joe

    This is a sad story if the allegations against the football players are true. It sounds as if MU did not get any cooperation from the parents and their excuse that the University was slow to act after her death doesn’t make sense because the alleged rape took place before her death and the parents had no reason to believe the University would be slow to act. It sounds as if the parents were not only slow to act but they did nothing at all. Because of her mental problems, the alleged rape may never have happened but there seems to be enough evidence that an investigation is needed. The video that on footballer claims to have seen would be very important to the case.

  • T

    Joe, I agree. How is this the University’s fault? I find it odd she didn’t report the rape to police and she had mental problems on top of that. Then, the parents seem to do nothing about it. Seems like there’s an issue with the FAMILY and not the school. Someone’s always looking for someone to blame, unfortunately.

  • Woody Woodson

    “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.”

    There’s no MU coverup. This is good practice that allows a victim to either report the assault or not to law enforcement. The threat of a police report might cause a victim not seek medical treatment.

  • MU survivor

    I attended Mizzou and was a survivor of a sexual assault that took place on the college campus. I immediately went to the hospital and filed a report. Many university officials knew about my rape. Not one thing was done about it. I love Mizzou, but I am tired of seeing young students getting raped on college campuses and the universities finding any and every excuse to look the other way. Until these schools stop hiding behind things like it taking place off-campus or her parents didn’t cooperate, we will continue to see these stories in the news. And I can say from experience, rape changes you forever. You never get over it. I have just found ways to not be defined by it. I applaud her parents for continuing to push this. You are making a difference – even if it helps one person, that is enough. And Mizzou, please do better. Be brave and take a stand that it is NOT tolerated. Don’t hide behind these excuses. If it involves your students then it is YOUR business. Much love to this girl’s family.

  • Chris Gipson

    Just to clarify this article is false in stating that Missouri only responded after this show was aired. Missouri released e-mails between the University and ESPN before OTL aired. I encourage everyone pointing blame at Missouri to read these emails before casting judgement. What happened is terrible but why the University is getting all of the blame for not reporting an incident that the victim and her family did not want reported is beyond me. I would be interested in hearing the parents side of the story from an unpartial sourse, as to why they didn’t persue an investigation when they were made aware of the incident before or at the same time as MU. Also, for the record the rape occured off campus and outside of University police juristidiction. I agree with the Universty not starting a public investigation until they had the families blessing since the family was also aware of the incident at that time and perhaps wanted privacy. Sad that the victim’s family and Missouri started this process trying to raise awareness for Bordrline Personality Disorder and now both are having their names drug throught the mud and having every action second guessed. The only one benefiting from this is ESPN. I hope the family gets some closur and that the rapist(s) are found and convicted, however, the ESPN coverage of this story is misleading and slanted.