University of Utah student athlete Lauren McCluskey repeatedly called campus police about ex before he shot her dead in 2018
Lauren McCluskey, 21, was shot dead on campus by her ex-boyfriend, 37-year-old registered sex offender Melvin Rowland, who then killed himself on oct 22, 2018
On Thursday, the university reversed their earlier stance, acknowledging for the first’s time that McCluskey’s killing was ‘preventable’
Her parents will be paid $13.5MILLION to settle two lawsuits they filed after her explicit photos were shared by a campus cop and she was murdered by her ‘sextorting’ ex-boyfriend
In the settlement reached with Matthew and Jill McCluskey, the University of Utah will pay $10.5million to the family and donate $3million to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation
The school also will build an indoor track by 2030 and name it after Lauren McCluskey
In the weeks before her killing, Lauren repeatedly complained to campus police that Rowland was harassing her and using her private images to extort her
Although campus cop Miguel Deras was later fired for sharing the victim’s images with colleagues, the Salt Lake City DA last week declined to bring criminal charges against Deras
Two years to the day after student-athlete Lauren McCluskey was brutally murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, the University of Utah announced that it will pay the victim’s family a total of $13.5million to settle two separate lawsuits.
As part of the agreement that was reached on Thursday, the university acknowledged for the first’s time that McCluskey’s killing in October 2018 was ‘preventable.’
University of Utah President Ruth Watkins previously said that there was not ‘any reason to believe this tragedy could have been prevented.’
News of the settlement comes a week after Salt Lake City’s top prosecutor announced that former University of Utah campus police officer Miguel Deras will not face criminal charges for sharing McCluskey’s explicit photos with his co-workers after she complained she was being blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland.
Less than two weeks after she first contacted campus police about the ‘sextortion’ plot, Rowland fatally shot her in a university parking lot, before turning the gun on himself.
District Attorney Sim Gill said last week that the former officer’s actions were ‘definitely reckless,’ but there is no state law addressing the misconduct.
‘We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate,’ Gill said. ‘But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.’
Gill’s decision to not charge Deras sparked protests in Salt Lake City and earned criticism from McCluskey’s mother, who warned that it could create a chilling effect for women in similar situations.
Matthew and Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s parents, had filed two separate lawsuits against University of Utah and related entities, with their first complaint brought last year seeking $56million and alleging that officials could have done more to protect their daughter after claiming she contacted campus police multiple times in the weeks leading up to her death saying her ex-boyfriend was harassing her.
On October 22, 2018, McCluskey was shot dead in the back of a car by her jilted boyfriend, 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. The man was a registered sex offender and lied about his age.
The family’s second lawsuit, filed in June of this year, accused the University of Utah of discriminating against McCluskey based on her gender by ignoring her pleas for protection.
‘The University of Utah acknowledges that the murder of Lauren McCluskey was a brutal, senseless, and preventable tragedy and acknowledges the unspeakable loss the McCluskey family has suffered and continues to suffer,’ Thursday’s settlement reads, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
As part of the agreement, the university will pay $10.5million to the student’s parents and donate an additional $3million to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation dedicated to improving safety on college campuses across the country.
University of Utah also will build an indoor track for McCluskey’s former track and field team by 2030 and name it after her.
McCluskey, a senior and track-and-field athlete from Pullman, Washington, met Rowland at a local bar where he was working as a bouncer and began a relationship with him in September 2018.
A friend said the 37-year-old Rowland presented himself as a 28-year-old community college student named Shawn.
Some of the victim’s closest friends sounded the alarm about her boyfriend, saying that he was possessive, controlling, manipulative and prone to jealous rages and stalking behavior, and raising concerns that the senior was in ‘an unhealthy and potentially harmful relationship.’
A month later, McCluskey learned Rowland’s true identity, including his actual age and the fact that he was a registered sex offender. At that point she decided to end the relationship.
In the weeks before her killing, Lauren repeatedly complained to campus police that Rowland was harassing her and using her private images to extort her. An officer shared her photos with his colleagues and bragged that he could look at them whenever he liked
McCluskey went to the campus police on October 13, and filed a report with officer Miguel Deras that Rowland had threatened to release compromising photos of herself, unless she paid him $1,000.
Utah’s Department of Public Safety determined that Deras kept the X-rated images on his personal phone, showed them to at least three male co-workers, and was quoted as bragging to others that he got to ‘look at them whenever he wants’, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Other officers were quoted as telling Deras that he was ‘lucky’ to get to work on the case and McCluskey was a ‘cute girl.’
The family’s civil suit contended that despite the fact that Lauren made as many as 20 police reports about her ex-boyfriend, her concerns were never taken seriously and no action was taken to investigate Rowland, until it was too late.
On the night of October 22, McCluskey was returning to her residence hall after class when she was confronted in the parking lot by Rowland, who forced her into the back of a car, drove to another location and shot her multiple times.
He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours later.
In the wake of the murder-suicide, an independent review was commissioned by the university and found that the school indeed missed warning signs of abuse before McCluskey was murdered.
However, President Watkins said there’s no reason to believe Rowland could’ve been stopped.
After McCluskey’s parents sued the school, University of Utah pledged to run more frequent checks to identify ex-convicts and investigate on-campus complaints more thoroughly.