The University of Utah officials are seeking dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit filed by the parents of Lauren McCluskey arguing that they can’t be held accountable for her murder, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
McCluskey was shot and killed by Melvin Rowland, 37, who was a convicted sex offender and had spent nearly one decade in prison outside of her campus dormitory on October 22, weeks after she ended her relationship with him. After a brief police chase, Rowland killed himself on the same night.
Last week, the school Attorney General Rachel George Terry filed papers in a U.S. District Court suggesting that law can’t hold the universities accountable for crimes committed by criminals on whom it lacks control.
“In this case, Ms. McCluskey’s killer, Rowland, was not a University employee, student, or volunteer. He had no University affiliation whatsoever. He was a bouncer at a downtown bar, on parole, with a criminal record and a history of deception and abuse. Rowland walked onto campus not at the University’s invitation, but to harm Ms. McCluskey,”Terry wrote in the filing.
“Extending liability to educational institutions in situations where they lack substantial control over harassers and criminals like Rowland would constitute an unprecedented and unwarranted expansion of the implied cause of action under Title IX, which would unjustly subject all educational institutions to liability for all acts of dating-related violence occurring on campus, regardless of the parties involved.”
The $56 million lawsuit filed in July by Jill and Matt McCluskey, the university of failing to take measures to protect 21-year-old senior and athlete McCluskey who had complained many times to campus police about being repeatedly stalked and harassed by Rowland.
The allegations in the lawsuit were mostly based on an independent investigation into the university’s conduct by former Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner John T. Nielsen.
The report said that a formal investigation was launched by the campus police on October 19, six days after McCluskey first communicated her concerns to the officers. The detective who was assigned to the case did not investigate it until her death. During the same time, McCluskey called the Salt Lake City police dispatch line twice for additional help.
McCluskey parents haven’t issued any statement in response to the filings.