This week police at the University of Missouri handed over details of a rape case to local police for investigation. Sasha Menu Courey, a member of Missouri’s women’s swim team, alleged that several unidentified football players raped her. Under any circumstances it is a horrid story, but this one even more so because it has been four years since the alleged rape took place and only now is anything being done about it. It is too late: Menu Courey committed suicide in 2011.
The details, as told in an articulate ESPN story, are even muddier than they sound. Menu Courey battled mental and emotional instability, including an attempted suicide in high school after a break-up with a boyfriend. In 2010, while a junior at Missouri, she claimed to have been raped while drunk by at least one football player and possibly more. In the months that followed the assault, she told medical personnel and counselors her story. But, being under confidentiality agreements, such personnel are not always required to report rape cases. She told friends but demanded they keep her secret. Reports indicate that her accusations even made it to officials in the university athletic department, but they also did nothing.
Without any resolution, Menu Courey completely fell apart emotionally, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and attempted to kill herself by slicing her wrists. Her parents decided it would best to withdraw her from school and admit her for treatment at a hospital in Boston, closer to their home in Toronto. In June 2011, while hospitalized, Menu Courey somehow got her hands on a large amount of Tylenol and ingested more than 100 pills. She died two days later.
Almost nothing in this story is clear. We know few details of the alleged crime, or even if there really was a crime. We do not know the identities of the alleged attackers. We don’t have anyone to point fingers at or hold accountable. But that is inconsequential next to what we do know: Sasha Menu Courey needed something she did not have.
Menu Courey was a victim of numerous failures. Her mind and emotions failed her. Her doctors failed to help her. Her friends failed to be there for her. The school’s system failed her. How can so many people hear allegations of rape and do nothing? Were the doctors afraid for their jobs if they reported the crime? Were her friends afraid they’d lose her friendship if they reported it? Why would they trust a broken, confused victim’s wishes to keep it quiet? Menu Courey needed a true friend, one who was “closer than a brother.”
“I’m still damaged goods.” These haunting words were among the last Menu Courey wrote in her journal. What is more heart-rending than an exquisite, unique creation of God seeing herself as worthless? Who was there to tell her that she was loved, that there is a love so deep and profound even the most damaged of goods can be made whole. Maybe Sasha Menu Courey couldn’t have heard this from her dark place. But God’s light pierces dark places. She needed to know the love of her Creator and Healer and she didn’t.