MU Addresses Questions Stemming from "Outside the Lines" Report
COLUMBIA - While the Columbia Police Department is now conducting an investigation into the 2010 alleged rape involving Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, the University of Missouri has responded to some questions many are asking. On Tuesday, MU released a statement that answered six questions it said had been frequently asked since the ESPN "Outside the Lines" report was released Friday.
The first question MU addressed was why the university didn't start an investigation when officials first learned about an allegation of sexual assault. MU responded with: "University of Missouri officials were not aware of any allegation of sexual assault until late 2012. (Sasha died in 2011.) In the process of gathering documents in response to Sasha's parents' Sunshine Law request, MU discovered a transcript of an online chat between Sasha and a crisis hotline that included a reference to an alleged sexual assault. Sasha had never reported this to University officials or requested an investigation while she was alive, and the transcript did not include the name of an assailant or any other specific information that would prompt an investigation. However, after discovering this document, the University contacted the parents and asked if they would like an investigation to take place. The parents did not respond. Therefore, at that point in time, which was after Sasha's death, the University was unable to go forward with an investigation due to no request for an investigation and a lack of specific information. "
MU also addressed the question of whether MU was required to do a Title IX investigation after the Columbia Daily Tribune reported an assault had occurred. MU stated: "The U.S. Department of Education's official guidance on Title IX states, "If a school knows or reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment, Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects." The Feb. 12, 2012 Columbia Daily Tribune article contained only these two sentences about an alleged assault: "Menu Courey also wrote in her diary months later that she was sexually assaulted at the end of her freshman year. She did not name the attacker." This information did not suggest that the alleged assault occurred on or near campus or in this country or Canada; nor did it indicate that any other students were involved.
Another common question has been why the university has now turned information over to the Columbia Police. MU said: "The ESPN story included names of individuals who might have relevant information regarding the alleged February 2010 assault. This was the first time that University officials had any concrete information on which to base an investigation. When the name of the man with whom Sasha had consensual sex and at whose residence the alleged assault occurred was revealed, the University checked its records and determined that the man had an off-campus address. Accordingly, the information was referred to the appropriate law enforcement officials, the Columbia Police Department."
When asked about the safety of students and President Wolfe's decision for an investigation, MU responded with: "The University's top priority is the safety and security of its students. Of course, we are concerned about alleged sexual assaults, and the University takes appropriate action to address such allegations...We agree with President Wolfe that the safety and security of our students is our most important priority. While we feel that University of Missouri personnel did everything possible considering the amount of information available at the time to help Sasha Menu Courey, we support a full review of the university's policies and procedures and look forward to any potential improvements that might be identified."
MU also went on to say Sasha was never taken off the swim team, saying she remained enrolled at the University until her death.