College Under Fire in Swimmer's Alleged Rape, Suicide

University of Missouri initially did not investigate or report alleged crime: ESPN
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2014 9:09 AM CST

Sasha Menu Courey, a swimmer at the University of Missouri, committed suicide in 2011—16 months after she was allegedly raped by a football player. A 16-month investigation by ESPN finds that the university knew about the incident but neither investigated it nor informed law enforcement of it—despite the fact that Title IX requires schools to investigate any alleged sexual violence, even after the alleged victim's death. And that's not all: While in counseling for depression after the alleged rape, Menu Courey was told to stop participating in swim team practices and competitions (she was also suffering from a back injury, and the head coach says he had no idea about the alleged rape). She felt she had been dropped from the team and feared she was in danger of losing her scholarship. She attempted suicide, and while hospitalized her athletic department academic adviser had her sign a University Withdrawal Form, though Menu Courey had made it clear she wanted to continue her studies.

The head swimming coach says the withdrawal was only pushed because she was in danger of failing her courses, but one of her professors says she could still have passed the two classes she was taking with him. Less than a month before she took her life, she was told her withdrawal made her ineligible for financial aid. (The school now says that letter did not apply to her athletic scholarship.) In all, a rape crisis counselor, a campus therapist, a campus nurse, and two doctors knew about Menu Courey's alleged rape. She also claimed to have told the athletic department academic adviser, but that woman denies it. Though some health providers are exempt from having to report sex crimes, campus administrators are not bound by medical privacy laws, and administrators knew about the rape claim by 2012 at the latest. Their defense: They were protecting Menu Courey's privacy by not reporting anything to authorities. In light of ESPN's investigation (click to read it in full), CNN reports that UM's president has launched an independent investigation; the case has also been referred to local police. (Read more Sasha Menu Courey stories.)

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