Sasha Menu Courey

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By David Morrison
Monday, January 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm Comments (8)

Shortly before Sasha Menu Courey’s suicide in June 2011, the former Missouri swimmer started talking about wanting to write a memoir of her experiences with borderline personality disorder.

At that point, Menu Courey was showing improvement while undergoing treatment at a Massachusetts hospital, bouncing back from an alleged sexual assault and a stream of emotional stressors that followed.

She wanted to be an example for others going through the same issues, her parents, Lynn Courey and Mike Menu, said. They’re hoping she still can be.

“We’re hoping that this is Sasha’s legacy,” Courey said. “That she will have driven that change.”

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe in a statement yesterday called for an independent review of how Missouri handled Menu Courey’s case and for all four campuses within the system to review their processes for dealing with sexual assaults and mental health services for their students.

MU’s News Bureau also issued a statement yesterday saying the university had turned Menu Courey’s case over to the Columbia Police Department because the alleged incident appears to have happened off campus.

The case will be handled by the special victims unit of the criminal investigation division of CPD, police spokesman Sgt. Joe Bernhard said. This morning, Bernhard said he didn’t think detectives had reviewed the file.

Investigating the case is a challenge because the alleged incident took place almost four years ago, there’s no clear knowledge about where the crime happened and there is no physical evidence or a victim, Bernhard said. “It’s difficult, but it’s possible,” Bernhard said.

Wolfe’s statement came two days after an ESPN story first raised potential issues with the way MU handled Menu Courey’s alleged sexual assault in February 2010, both before she died and after more details on the incident became available through public-records requests made by ESPN and Menu Courey’s parents in 2012.

Menu said Wolfe’s message fit very closely with the family’s objectives.

“We’re very pleased by the developments that have happened until now,” Menu said. “We’re not done. We really look forward to some changes there. It’s not claiming victory, but it certainly looks like things are moving in the right direction. They’re looking at this very closely.”

MU athletic department spokesman Chad Moller said athletic department officials first became aware of the incident in fall 2012 and that the school wrote a letter to Menu Courey’s parents last January asking whether they would like MU to turn the case over to law enforcement.

Courey said the school had not been in contact with the family since the ESPN story broke, other than through publicly available statements on MU’s website.

“Sexual assault and rape are unacceptable. We have to stop this, and we have to change that culture. Something has to be done promptly,” Courey said. “Those are the two big messages we hope to come out of this, and that the college will embrace this and implement proper process, and they’ll be really leading this cause.”

Courey and Menu said Sasha’s 21-year-old sister, Kayla, wrote them a note from school to keep them mindful of their mission as they deal with the fallout of their family’s pain becoming a national story.

It’s not about blame, she reminded them. It’s about progress.

“We’re all doing the best we can, and we can all do better,” Menu said. “There are a whole bunch of situations and forces at play that make people make mistakes. That is the best they can do at that time. It doesn’t mean that it’s justifiable. It just means that it is what it is. And things can change.”

Ashley Jost contributed to this report.

This article was published in the Monday, January 27, 2014 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune with the headline “Parents hope story leads to change.”

© 2014 Columbia Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Posted in Local, Mu on Monday, January 27, 2014 2:00 pm.

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