The death of a popular collegiate swimmer has led to an investigation into an alleged rape at the University of Missouri. Sasha Menu Courey committed suicide after reporting that she had been raped by one or more football players. Columbia, Missouri police are now opening a criminal investigation into the alleged rape, while the school's president has called for an independent investigation into the school's handling of the situation.
Sasha Menu Courey was just a freshman when she was allegedly raped by one or more football players. She told a rape crisis counselor about the ordeal months after the alleged assault. Her parents say that Menu Courey also spoke with a campus nurse and doctor about the rape, but not until 11 months after it occurred. According to a report by ESPN, Menu Courey later told an athletic department administrator about the assault.
Unfortunately, no one reported the claim to police due to a law that prevented them from doing so without the victim's consent. However, campus administrators, such as the athletic department administrator, could have reported the claim because the law does not apply to them.
Menu Corey grew despondent and, 16 months after the alleged assault, committed suicide. Her parents told the press that they only learned of the rape claim after her death. They found her explanation for what happened in her journal.
"People were telling us that she had been raped and she wrote it in her journal," Lynn Courey, Sasha's mother, told CNN. "We lost our daughter and we cannot bring her back, but we can make a difference for others."
School officials say that they did all they could under the circumstances and turned over a transcript of Menu Courey's session with the rape counselor. They also asked her parents if they wanted an investigation into the matter.
"We did not feel supported in this letter," Sasha's father Mike Menu explained. "This letter was a check-the-boxes letter and, really to be honest, it did not deserve a response."
One major issue being raised in light of Menu Courey's death is that surrounding Title IX, which is a law that guarantees men and women equal rights and protections on campus. Universities are bound to investigate any claim of sexual assault or rape, even if the victim is no longer alive. The president of the University has called for a full investigation into the handling of Menu Courey's situation.
"We continue to believe that the University did the right thing in trying to be respectful of Sasha's parents and determine their wishes," a statement from the University noted. "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."
"There will be some challenges during the investigation, but our detectives will do the best they can," Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard told The Kansas City Star. "It's always challenging when the victim's not there to give their account, kind of like in a homicide investigation, and it's four year afterward, so I would imagine physical evidence and things like that will be hard to track down too."