You Know Michael Sam But Not Sasha Menu Courey. Were Her Rape & Death Ignored?
When you tell people you work for a black women’s website, they love to share the stories they think you should cover. Some of them are terrible and would never work and some of them fit perfectly in line with what we are trying to do here. This was the case last month when my sister’s friend Brittany sent me a link about Sasha Menu Courey. Sasha was a woman of color, a swimmer who attended the same college as I did: the University of Missouri. We affectionately call the school Mizzou. Sasha and I were on the campus at the same time; but to the best of my knowledge I never got to meet her. I’ll always remember Mizzou fondly. As the place where I met some of my best friends, learned about myself and learned the skills I would need to survive at my job and in the world. I love Mizzou. But for Sasha the experience was different. Though her journals and testimony from close friends seem to suggest that Sasha loved our school, something happened to her during her time there that perhaps changed the rest of her life.
Sasha, a Toronto native, was raped while she was a student at Mizzou. And presumably the aftermath of the rape and other subsequent events led her to take her own life 16 months later. She was 20 years old. It was tragic. And what made a terrible situation that much worse is that though several university officials knew about the rape, evidence suggests that the University, my university, didn’t report or investigate. I read the story and naturally was immediately saddened that this had happened first to Sasha and then secondly that nothing had been done to address it. This was a terrible story that had largely been underreported and it pained me…for about 20 minutes. And then like Mizzou, I forgot about her.
Two weeks later, the story of Micheal Sam, the gay NFL prospect came out and Mizzou was being celebrated in the media for “producing” a star athlete and also providing an environment where a black, gay man felt comfortable to come and live “out.” I knew our campus was pretty progressive when it came to LGBTQ issues, especially since Missouri can be quite conservative and has a long history of being flat out racist. But that’s a story for another day. The notoriety and praise that the university was receiving because of Sam’s announcement felt a little one sided. And I couldn’t really put my finger on why. And then I remembered Sasha. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” conducted a six month investigation into Sasha’s story, interviewing school officials, medical professionals and consulting Sasha’s own journals to obtain the information you’ll read in this story.
And in an effort to tell her story, to hold my beloved university accountable and maybe inspire someone in her situation to step forward, I’m passing it on to you.
Sasha Menu Courey was a sprinter and relay specialist on the university’s swim team from 2009-2011. A Toronto native, she had been recruited by Mizzou and several other schools to compete. She was given a near-full scholarship. Before Sasha had come to Mizzou, at the age of 16 she had attempted suicide after a breakup with a high school boyfriend. She took several Tylenol before calling the ambulance. The incident was written off as teenage angst and she stopped counseling shortly afterward. Once she got to Mizzou, she was a straight A student and was named Student Athlete of the Week during her sophomore year.
Then in February of 2010, after a night of drinking Menu Courey went back to Gil Moye, a male friend’s apartment where the two had consensual sex. Afterward Menu Courey believed she was raped by another man. She described the incident to a rape counselor. Here is her word for word account of the incident obtained from her school records.
“[We] were falling asleep & then i heard the [door] open & some other guy walked in & locked the door & i couldnt really see who it was & i never saw a face the whole time…. but i remember just sitting upright in bed at the sound of someone walking in. & i just remember feeling really scared thinking that the two guys had planned this or something. so my first thought was figure out who this other person was in case so that if i needed the informaton i would have it later… the guy told me his name & then he pulled down his pants & put on a condom & just knew i was screwed …”
Menu Courey went on to describe the assault in detail, mentioning that she tried to reach a friend and former boyfriend on the phone during the assault:
“… I started to panick & as i still on the phone trying to reach one of them tears start going down & the guy just lift up my dress & next thing i knew he inserts from behind. by that point tears were falling more but i wasnt loud & didnt anything. and then i just snapped and kind pushed him away & yelled no! and then he just left.