The parents of a slain University of Utah student have filed a $56 million federal lawsuit, alleging college police and housing officials failed to act before her ex-boyfriend shot her to death on campus last year.
Matt and Jill McCluskey, the parents of slain student Lauren McCluskey, 21, announced Thursday that they’re suing the college for violating Title IX by ignoring their daughter’s repeated reports of physical and emotional abuse and stalking at the hands of Melvin Shawn Rowland, 37. Lauren ended the brief relationship with Rowland after learning he lied about his name, age, and sex offender status, according to Deseret News Utah.
Rowland allegedly shot Lauren seven times near her dorm as she spoke on the phone with her mother. He reportedly engaged in a shootout with police before killing himself inside a church.
Lauren reportedly placed multiple calls to university police between October 10 and her shooting death on October 22. University police reportedly didn’t conduct a background check on Rowland, who served prison time in Utah. The slain woman’s mother claimed housing officials did nothing when her daughter’s friends reported that Rowland talked about bringing a gun to campus, according to the news outlet.
Days before the murder, Lauren reportedly called 911 and expressed frustration at the university’s handling of the case.
“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,” she told a Salt Lake City Police dispatcher on October 19, according to CNN. “They haven’t updated or done anything.”
The University of Utah student allegedly paid Rowland $1,000 to keep intimate photos of herself private. University police dismissed claims of stalking and sexual made by Lauren—suggesting she “was the victim of an online scam,” according to the 51-page lawsuit.
Jill said she contacted university President Ruth Watkins months after Lauren’s “preventable” murder to forge a partnership upon identifying ongoing safety issues at the college.
“No one has been disciplined or held accountable in the campus police or housing. The same culture prevails in the campus police. There is no significant change,” Lauren’s mother said in an email to ESPN. “Initially we were not planning to file a lawsuit, but President Watkins refused to take any responsibility or hold anyone accountable for the failures that resulted in Lauren’s murder.”
In addition to the University of Utah, the lawsuit listed the college’s department of housing and public safety as defendants. According to CNN, the murder victim’s mother said a monetary judgment will go to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which provides support to student-athletes.
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[Featured image: Lauren McCluskey/Facebook]