A University of Missouri swimmer’s death by her own hand in 2011 may have been connected to a earlier rape she suffered, by as many as three University football players, but the school never investigated her claim, an ESPN Outside The Lines investigation aired Sunday reported.
Sasha Menu-Courey, a top swimmer who was recruited on a near-full scholarship to the University of Missouri, was a troubled young woman. She had attempted suicide as young as age 16, after a breakup with a boyfriend. But when the Canadian teen arrived at the university, there were no signs that she would meet her death before graduating.
She was a top student as well as a star swimmer. But in February of 2010, she checked herself into a campus hospital and told health workers there that she had been raped by at least one University of Missouri football player and maybe more.
Due to confidentiality requirements, the health workers never reported the allegations. Neither did the swimmer. But she later had an online chat with a rape crisis counselor in which she described the attack in detail. A transcript of the chat was obtained by ESPN.
In the chat, Menu-Courey describes returning to the apartment of a male friend after going out drinking. She and the man then had sex, consensually. Afterward, she began falling asleep in her companion’s bed when another man entered the room in darkness.
She said that the other man dropped his pants, put on a condom and as she protested and tried to call a friend on her phone, raped her from behind.
ESPN interviewed another male friend of Menu-Courey who played football for the University of Missouri. The friend, Rolandis Woodland, said that when he saw Sasha the following day, she was in tears. But she would not tell him exactly what happened, only that it was bad.
Woodland said he saw a videotape of the rape later, after the swimmer’s death, in which three men attacked his friend in a dark room. “You could see her saying ‘No, no,’ hysterically crying,” he told ESPN. “When she tells him to get off of her, and he says, ‘It’s only me.'” The videotaped sex assault lasted about three minutes before Menu-Courey escaped from the room.
After the report on the swimmer’s death aired Sunday on ESPN, the University issued a statement, according to The Washington Post, saying it had not learned of the rape allegation until 2012, months after Menu-Courey committed suicide in June 2011 in a psychiatric hospital where she was being treated for borderline personality disorder, a condition that is sometimes the result of sexual abuse.
“There are many resources out there, but there’s not really any (sense) that she was provided with those resources,” Zachary Wilson, of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence told the Post. “It’s difficult for sexual assault survivors to go at it alone.”
On Wednesday, the University’s Board of Curators decided to hire a law firm to investigate how the university handled the swimmer’s death and the rape allegations.