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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 1:42 a.m.
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Review: Mizzou didn't follow federal assault rules

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 11, 2014 at 4:07 p.m.

— An independent report released Friday says the University of Missouri failed to follow parts of the federal law that governs sexual harassment on campus when handling the case of a former swimmer's suicide.

The report concludes administrators on the Columbia campus should have investigated 20-year-old Sasha Menu Courey's 2011 death after her parents raised questions about the events leading to her suicide. Menu Courey alleged she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year by as many as three football players, 16 months before she died.

The school previously said it didn't act sooner under the Title IX law because neither Menu Courey nor her parents sought a police investigation and didn't respond to a later request for information. The case has since been referred to Columbia police.

The report makes no specific recommendations for possible changes but instead provides a detailed accounting of the university's response.

The report's primary finding was that the university lacked a policy advising employees of their obligations to report suspected sexual assault and harassment. University President Tim Wolfe took action on that very issue Tuesday with an executive order that requires all university employees other than those legally bound by confidentiality to report such claims to the university's Title IX coordinator.

The Title IX coordinator and local police should have been alerted to Menu Courey's claims in November 2012 after a public records request by her parents produced documents alluding to a possible attack, the report determined. The Title IX coordinator also should have been told about the possible assault nine months earlier when athletics department employees learned about it in a local news story, the law firm concluded.

University curators received the report, by the Dowd Bennett law firm of suburban St. Louis, during a closed-door session in Rolla on Friday. Wolfe was scheduled to discuss the findings after that meeting.

In a written statement, he vowed to "improve the way we serve people on our campuses in terms of sexual assault prevention, reporting, and education and mental health service delivery in the future.

"We have taken this decisive action because the safety and security of the students, faculty and staff on our four campuses is an absolute priority."

Menu Courey, who grew up outside Toronto, killed herself at a Boston psychiatric hospital after withdrawing from classes mid-semester and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a disease her family said she struggled with before college but which went undiagnosed. Her family has created a charitable foundation in her name to help raise money for greater awareness of the mental health disorder.

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