McCluskey’s Parents File $56 Million Lawsuit Against University of Utah
Jill and Matt McCluskey, the parents of Lauren McCluskey, the University of Utah student who was killed on campus in October by her ex-boyfriend, have filed a $56 million civil rights lawsuit against the school, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court, alleges 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 her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, 37, who was a convicted sex offender and had spent nearly one decade in prison, CNN reported.
The suit also alleges the school of violating the Title IX process and procedures which call for swift investigation into reports of sexual violence and providing additional support.
“(University) failed to take any action reasonably calculated to end the abuse and prevent its reoccurrence or to otherwise investigate the allegations, thereby acting with deliberate indifference and subjecting Lauren to further and ongoing abuse,” the lawyers for the plaintiff alleged.
We are in SLC for a press conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. We are filing a lawsuit against @UUtah, who never took responsibility for their failures that resulted in Lauren's murder. Any money from the lawsuit will go to the https://t.co/3sT5hXaGoG and to support student athletes.
— Jill McCluskey (@jjmccluskey) June 26, 2019
McCluskey was shot and killed by Rowland 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.
The suit alleges campus police of not paying heed to the many complaints filed by McCluskey days before her death. She even told campus police officers that her estranged boyfriend was threatening to release compromising photos of her if she remained adamant about ending their relationship.
The allegations in the lawsuit are 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.
“There was never an attempt by any of the officers involved to check his ‘offender status.’ Further, there were no policies or procedures that required such checks,” the report found.
In February, Miguel Deras, one of the police officers who handled McCluskey’s complaints, was disciplined by the university for committing mistakes in another domestic violence case, a university record, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune revealed. Deras was named in the lawsuit for demonstrating non-seriousness toward McCluskey’s compliant when she went to share her concerns with a friend.
Meanwhile, McCluskey’s parents are seeking $56 million in damages which they say will go to a foundation set up to honor their daughter, supporting other student athletes in the future.