UM Curators Discuss Firm Chosen to Investigate Menu Courey Case
COLUMBIA- University of Missouri Board of Curators Chair Don Downing addressed the news media via conference call Friday following the announcement that the Dowd Bennett Law Firm will investigate whether university employees acted lawfully throughout the alleged sexual assault and death of former MU swimmer Sasha Menu Courey.
On the call, board chair Don Downing said a report of the findings is expected by April 11.
Downing said the firm was chosen for its previous experience with high-profile cases, as well as its access to resources that will allow a report to be completed by the April deadline.
"The board wants an independent council to look at what the facts actually are, what the university knew and when it knew it, and what it should of done under applicable law and our policies, " Downing said.
The team consists of two former U.S. attorneys, three former assistant U.S. attorneys, a former head of a sex crimes unit, an inspector for the United States Postal Service, and a former investigative journalist who investigated another university's handling of a similar case.
"I think when you combine all elements of the team it's a great and very well qualified team to undertake this kind of independent investigation," Downing said.
None of the participants on the Dowd Bennett team are MU alumni.
The cost of the investigation is unknown at this time. The board will pay fees and the out of pocket costs for the investigation during the firm's stay in Columbia.
"I don't want to prejudge how much this might cost at the end of the day," he said, "We want this investigation to be thorough and we want it done right."
Downing said the firm will have full access, but will have to work around privacy and HIPPA concerns.
"Our hope is all university employees will cooperate to the fullest extent permitted by the law," he said.
Downing said additional work has started in which campuses will review their polices regarding reporting of sexual assault and mental health under President Wolf's directive.
"We want them to jump right on this and do a thorough and complete investigation and we want the results back promptly," Downing said.
The Board of Curators issued a resolution Jan. 29 calling for an investigation.
Separate from the independent investigation, each MU campus is evaluating the procedures for reporting of sexual assault cases and mental heath provisions for victims.
The firm will not report whether the overall policies of sexual assault reporting on all MU campuses are appropriate.
"They'll be looking at communication that were received by those people [Athletic department] as well as all university employees who received new communications again," Downing added.
Downing said he anticipates the report to be issued in an executive session, but Downing expects a public report to be released.