MU boosts efforts to fight campus sex assault

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri’s flagship campus in Columbia announced Tuesday that it’s boosting its efforts to fight sexual assault.

The Columbia Daily Tribune (bit.ly/1xEcDkZ ) reports that the university plans to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator as well as a full-time investigator. Responsibility for overseeing the school’s compliance with the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education had previously been handled on a part-time basis by an administrator with other duties.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced the moves Tuesday. In April, he vowed to make the school “accountable and responsible” after an independent review by an outside law firm hired by university curators faulted the university’s response to the suicide of a former swimmer who told health professionals before her death that she had been raped by several football players.

Sasha Menu Courey committed suicide in 2011 at a Boston psychiatric hospital after withdrawing from classes at Missouri. Before her death, she told health professionals bound by confidentiality that she had been sexually assaulted in 2010. The matter was not investigated by the university at the time and no one was arrested or disciplined.

The outside review determined that 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 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 review concluded.

The school initially said it didn’t act sooner because neither Menu Courey nor her parents sought a police investigation and didn’t respond to a request for information. The case has since been referred to Columbia, Missouri, police.

Loftin’s move comes after University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe issued an April executive order requiring all university employees other than those legally bound by confidentiality to report such claims to the Title IX coordinator.

Loftin appointed Linda Bennett, an associate education professor, as the interim Title IX coordinator. The chancellor said he hopes to have the two hires complete by the start of the fall semester in late August.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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