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Columbia police open criminal investigation into alleged rape of Mo. swimmer

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at 4:19 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at 1:58 p.m.

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— The Columbia Police Department confirmed Monday that it has opened a criminal investigation into the alleged rape of former Missouri swimmer Sasha Menu Courey.

Menu Courey was a freshman on the Tigers’ swimming team four years ago when she was allegedly raped by one or more football players. She later committed suicide June 17, 2011, at McLean Hospital near Boston, where she was being treated for borderline personality disorder.

MU officials announced Sunday that the school had forwarded information to Columbia police after determining the alleged crime may have occurred in the 600 block of Huntridge Drive, which is off campus.

Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard said Menu Courey’s death and the length of time that has passed since the alleged assault will complicate any investigation.

“There will be some challenges during the investigation, but our detectives will do the best they can,” Bernhard said.

He continued, “It’s always challenging when the victim's not there to give their account, kind of like in a homicide investigation, and it’s four years afterward, so I would imagine physical evidence and things like that will be hard to track down too.”

Menu Courey’s story — and the university’s handling of Menu Courey’s allegations — was the focus of an investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” which was published online Friday and aired Sunday.

Menu Courey told healthcare workers at MU about her sexual assault, but she never filed a formal complaint with MU police.

The “Outside the Lines” report alleges that Menu Courey told a former Missouri athletics staffer, Meghan Anderson, about the assault during a phone conversation one month before she died, a charge Anderson denied to ESPN.

Menu Courey wrote about her conversation with Anderson in a journal, which her parents, Lynn Courey and Mike Menu, found after her death.

MU maintains that it knew nothing about the alleged sexual assault until the fall of 2012, when it uncovered a chat transcript with a rape crisis counselor in Menu Courey’s email drafts after an open-records request from her parents.

At the time, MU asked Menu Courey’s parents it they wanted the university to investigate the alleged rape, but Menu Courey’s parents didn’t respond.

After learning new information as a result of the “Outside the Lines” report, MU said Sunday that it was now forwarding information to Columbia police.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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