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University of Missouri system president requests independent investigation into MU’s handling of Sasha Menu Courey case

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe has asked for an independent investigation into Missouri's handling of an alleged sexual assault of a former swimmer at the university.

An ESPN Outside the Lines report published Friday said after learning about the alleged incident against Sasha Menu Courey, possibly by one or more members of the football team, Missouri did not investigate. After the report was published online, the university published emails between OTL and an athletic department spokesperson defending the actions of the school.

In 2011, approximately 16 months after the alleged incident, Menu Courey committed suicide.

Wolfe asked for the independent investigation in an email to chancellors of the four Missouri campuses on Sunday.

"I am asking the board of curators to hire outside independent counsel to conduct an investigation of MU’s handling of matters related to Ms. Courey," Wolfe wrote. "Such an independent review will be beneficial to all our campuses so that we can determine if there were any shortcomings with respect to MU’s handling of this matter and, if so, ways in which to improve the handling of such matters in the future.

"At the same time, I am directing each of you to lead a comprehensive review of your campuses' respective policies, training and procedures concerning the prevention and reporting of sexual assaults and the availability of mental health services. We must ensure that each of our campuses has the necessary resources to educate the campus community about sexual assault and prevention, as well as an effective process for reporting such incidents, plus adequate capacity to address mental health issues among our students, faculty and staff. Once we have done a complete examination of our policies and procedures on our campuses and identified any areas of need, I am pledging to make available any additional resources, including funding from the UM System budget, to our campuses to ensure that we are addressing this issue in the appropriate manner. As leaders of our campuses, I am asking you to also volunteer new ideas and new investments that are necessary to ensure the safety of our students."

In the emails posted Friday, Missouri said that it only had knowledge of Menu Courey's report of the incident until her family's Sunshine Law request of a chat transcript with a rape crisis counselor from her email account. A request that the school said came more than a year after Menu Courey's death and over two years after the alleged incident. Missouri also cited medical privacy laws and said the family did not respond when the university asked if the family wanted an investigation.

The OTL report said that six university employees -- the counselor, a nurse, two doctors, a campus therapist and an athletic department administrator -- knew of Menu Courey's allegations while she was alive.

The television version of the story aired Sunday morning on ESPN2. Following the episode, Missouri announced that the university police department handed information over to the Columbia Police Department.

"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 on the evening of Saturday, January 25th," the statement in part said. "This information from ESPN's story included names of individuals who might have relevant information regarding the alleged February 2010 assault."

"After review of this new information which was previously unavailable to MU, it was determined that the alleged assault occurred off campus, and therefore lies within the jurisdiction of CPD. The university will assist CPD in any way possible as they conduct their investigation."

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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