Rape victim kills herself after school ignores her pleas of help for months
They say suicide is a call for help. Read Sasha’s story below and decide at what point someone should have gotten involved?
The University of Missouri has been accused of ignoring the alleged rape of a star swimmer by at least one member of its football team – and the student later committed suicide.
According to a 16-month long investigation by ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines,’ staff at the school first learned about the alleged February 2010 incident after Canadian-born Sasha Menu Courey recounted her harrowing experience to a rape crisis counselor during an online chat conversation and a campus therapist in December that year.
But, despite their legal obligation to report possible sexual violence to police, law enforcement has only just this week been notified, prompted by the story, and the college still hasn’t launched its own investigation into the claims.
Menu Courey committed suicide in June 2011, about 16 months after the alleged assault. ‘This cost her her health,’ the girl’s mother, Lynn Courey, said. ‘It cost her her swimming. It cost her her life. I really believe today: that the rape… is what killed her. The reason why she needed… this treatment is because she was raped. And nothing was done about it.’
Since her death, the university was reportedly alerted to the allegations from more sources, including a 2012 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune. However, Missouri officials told ‘Outside the Lines’ in December the information was insufficient for them to bring to law enforcement or to investigate under Title IX – the law enforced by the U.S. Department of Education that requires a school, once it knows or reasonably should know of possible sexual violence, to take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what happened. This applies even after an alleged victim is dead.
Former Missouri football receiver Rolandis Woodland backed up her account and said he saw cell phone video of three of his teammates raping her in a dark room as she sobbed hysterically. ‘You could see her saying “No, no,” hysterically crying,’ Woodland told ‘Outside the Lines.’ ‘She uses the name of [the player] when she tells him to get off of her, and he says, “It’s only me.” They dim the lights and you could see them switching her but you cannot see who was switching because the lights were dimmed. About three minutes into the tape, she pushed whoever was on her off of her and ran out of the room.’ He said the video was sent to him by Menu Courey before she killed herself in June 2011 but he said it was inadvertently misplaced by one of his family members. Woodland, who previously dated Menu Courey and considered her his best friend, said he didn’t go to police because he didn’t think she would have wanted him to.
The swimmer’s emotional state declined rapidly after the incident, documents show. By March 2011, she checked herself into the campus psychiatric center and told the nurse she had been raped by a football player. Two doctors were also made aware of the alleged assault and variations of ‘raped/football player’ were written on multiple admission notes. A few weeks later, after being released to her parents’ care, she convinced them to let her spend the night with friends but instead checked into a local hotel and slashed her wrists. According to her mother, a police officer later said she had been yelling, ‘The system failed me, the system failed me!’ On April 26, Menu Courey was moved by her parents to Boston’s McLean Hospital. On May 12, Menu Courey wrote in her journal that she called Athletic staffer Meghan Anderson and told her about the alleged rape. Phone records from the hospital confirm the call but Anderson denied to ‘Outside the Lines’ that Menu Courey had told her she was assaulted. Two weeks later, Missouri’s Student Financial Aid director sent Menu Courey a letter saying she was no longer eligible for financial aid because she had withdrawn from school.
On June 15, 2011, while still in the Boston hospital, her parents said Menu Courey somehow managed to obtain a large number of prescription pills and took 100 of them. Two days later, she died of organ failure.
If a person is desperate enough for attention to kill themselves; they need your immediate attention. If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone until you get a response, pray for courage that you might live as whatever burden you are carrying will soon pass and you will not have to place that heavy burden on others. You may not feel it right now but you: are loved whoever you are.