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U. claims it wasn’t at fault for Lauren McCluskey’s death, her parents say otherwise

U. claims it wasn’t at fault for Lauren McCluskey’s death, her parents say otherwise

(Geoff Crimmins, Deseret News, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Lauren McCluskey’s parents responded Monday to a motion filed Friday by the University of Utah to dismiss a lawsuit pending against the university that claims the entity bears responsibility for the U. student’s murder.

In the statement released Monday, McCluskey’s parents, who filed the $56 million lawsuit against the school, say the claim that the university bears no responsibility in Lauren’s death is simply not true.

“The University of Utah is arguing that because Lauren’s murderer was not affiliated with the University, they had no control over him and had no obligation to protect their own student,” Lauren’s mother, Jill McCluskey, said in the statement. “If that's the case, the University of Utah shouldn't have a police force. Since Lauren lived on campus, her only access to police was the campus police. She trusted campus police to help her, and they failed."

In the motion to dismiss, the defendants say they are not at fault for McCluskey’s death since her killer, Melvin Rowland, was not affiliated with the school.

The McCluskey family sued the university in June, saying the University of Utah had not taken responsibility for the death of their daughter, which occurred in October 2018 at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

The complaint also names the then-chief of the university’s police department, three other officers, and three university housing employees as defendants.

In the statement, McCluskey’s attorneys point out that in the school’s commissioned reporton Lauren McCluskey’s death, it found that were 30 problems that needed to be fixed to ensure school safety.

She trusted campus police to help her, and they failed.

–Jill McCluskey, murdered U. student Lauren McCluskey's mother

Additionally, the statement addresses multiple illegal things Rowland allegedly did before killing McCluskey on campus, that the lawsuit claims were ignored by university police, including threatening and stalking her, blackmailing her and impersonating a police officer.

“In spite of all of this the University never contacted Lauren McCluskey’s assailant or investigated the situation,” the family’s attorneys said in the statement.

The statement also invited the school to join the McCluskey family in donating to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, a nonprofit created by her parents that is “dedicated to making the University of Utah and other University campuses a safer place for our daughters and our granddaughters.”

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