The family of Lauren McCluskey, who was murdered after weeks of harassment, stalking and blackmail attempts, is suing the University of Utah for $56 million failing to act after she filed more than 20 reports with campus police.
Lauren McCluskey, 21, was shot and killed outside of her University of Utah dorm on October 22, 2018, by Melvin Rowland, a man she'd briefly dated before learning that he'd lied about his name, age, and sex offender status.
After McCluskey ended their relationship on October 9, Rowland, 37, began stalking, harassing, and attempting to extort McCluskey, who reported his behavior and sought help from campus police on numerous occasions. Her friends also reported their concerns to dormitory officials after they heard Rowland talk about bringing a gun to campus, but no action was taken.
Now, her parents, Richard and Jill McCluskey, are suing the University of Utah for $56 million for failing to protect their daughter.
"They tried to minimize her and have her go away, they were not caring, they were not helpful," Lauren's mother said during a press conference.
We loved Lauren so much and miss her everyday. We hope for change so that other parents don't lose their daughters to violence when they are away at college. Thanks to all who are supporting us and remembering Lauren. pic.twitter.com/F2VeV3LxEO— Jill McCluskey (@jjmccluskey) January 12, 2019
"Lauren’s death was preventable," family attorney James McConkie said in a statement. "The murder occurred because of the University of Utah’s repeated failure to respond to Lauren’s multiple and continuing pleas for help."
Shockingly, a review of the case found that University of Utah officers did not know how to perform a criminal background check or look up parole information, CNN reported.
Rowland had spent more than a decade in prison on charges of enticing a minor and attempted forcible sexual abuse and had been twice sent back to prison for parole violations.
The McCluskeys said in their press conference they wouldn’t have sued if the U had “taken responsibility” for Lauren’s death. They say they will not profit from an award, that it would go the Lauren McCluskey Foundation and to cover costs. https://t.co/jfJ4dE87co— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) June 27, 2019
"I'm worried because I've been working with the campus police at the U, and last Saturday I reported and I haven't gotten an update. They haven't updated or done anything," McCluskey said in a phone call with Salt Lake City Police dispatch on October 19.
Three days later, when she was sitting in her car in front of her dorm and talking on the phone with her mother, Rowland approached and fatally shot her. He later took his own life after a chase with police.
If the suit is successful, the McCluskeys said the funds will go to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which honors her legacy by supporting charitable works for campus safety, student athletes, and animal welfare.
From Pullman, Washington, McCluskey was an award-winning athlete, attending the University of Utah on a Track & Field scholarship.
I wrote about Lauren McCluskey, the U of Utah student who was stalked, extorted, and killed by her ex.
She'd described her abuse to police, but they didn't see the danger she was in.
Now, women are trying to teach the university how to open its eyes.https://t.co/Q0Vt93Ldc0— Emma Pettit (@EmmaJanePettit) June 12, 2019