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University of Utah agrees Lauren McCluskey’s murder was ‘preventable,’ will pay her parents $13.5 million

Acknowledging for the first time that the on-campus murder of track star Lauren McCluskey was “preventable,” the University of Utah agreed Thursday that it could have better protected her and failed — and it will pay out $13.5 million to her parents as part of a legal settlement.

At a news conference, U. President Ruth Watkins said she was “sincerely sorry” for the loss of McCluskey.

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have,” she read from a statement, “and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation.”

Watkins paused. “As a result,” she added, “we failed Lauren and her family.”

Her comments Thursday contrast with her insistence shortly after the murder that there wasn’t “any reason to believe this tragedy could have been prevented.” That earlier statement followed an independent review that

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University of Utah says Lauren McCluskey’s death was ‘preventable,’ settles with family for $13.5 million

The University of Utah reached a $13.5 million settlement Thursday with the parents of Lauren McCluskey, a student who was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus two years ago, and acknowledged that her death was preventable. 



a person who is smiling and looking at the camera: Lauren McCluskey, a senior majoring in communication, was shot and killed Monday night at the University of Utah.


© Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah
Lauren McCluskey, a senior majoring in communication, was shot and killed Monday night at the University of Utah.

The university will pay the McCluskeys $10.5 million and make $3 million donation to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation that is designed to improve campus safety and help collegiate track athletes and animal shelters. The family has said all the money will go to the foundation.

“This settlement is important for many reasons,” Jill McCluskey said at a press conference Thursday. “It addresses how Lauren died, but it also honors how she lived.”

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University of Utah settles with family of murdered student Lauren McCluskey and renames its violence prevention center in her honor

The University of Utah has settled two lawsuits with the parents of Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old student who was killed by an ex-boyfriend she had complained about to police more than 20 times.



Sadie Feighan looking at the camera: Lauren McCluskey


© University of Utahq
Lauren McCluskey

McCluskey’s body was found in the back seat of a car on campus two years ago. She had been shot and killed by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, a convicted sex offender who had spent more than a decade in prison. He killed himself hours later after a police chase, university police had said.

Lauren McCluskey’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, filed a $56 million lawsuit last year alleging the University of Utah had failed to protect their daughter.

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s

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Family of murdered college athlete Lauren McCluskey settles with University of Utah for $13.5 million

Lauren McCluskey was killed by her ex-boyfriend in October 2018.

Two years to the day after the brutal murder of University of Utah athlete Lauren McCluskey, her parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, and the university announced a $10.5 million settlement in a lawsuit against the school. In addition, the school will donate $3 million to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation.

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation,” University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said during a press conference held Thursday. “As a result, we have failed Lauren and her family. If these employees had more complete training and protocols to guide their responses, the university believes they would have been better equipped to protect

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Family of slain University of Utah athlete Lauren McCluskey reach $13.5M settlement with school

The family of slain University of Utah track athlete Lauren McCluskey has reached a $13.5 million settlement with the school.



a group of people playing football on a field: Family of slain University of Utah athlete Lauren McCluskey reach $13.5M settlement with school


© Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Family of slain University of Utah athlete Lauren McCluskey reach $13.5M settlement with school

The settlement was announced Thursday, which was the second anniversary of her death. University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said the school “acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have.”

Under the settlement, the state of Utah will pay the McCluskeys $10.5 million by March 31. The University will contribute $3 million to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation by the same date.

The school also pledged to build an indoor track facility that will have her name by Dec. 31, 2030. If the facility is not finished by that time, then the school will make an additional $3 million contribution to the foundation

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Family of slain student Lauren McCluskey gets $13.5M settlement from University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a University of Utah track athlete who was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus two years ago reached a $13.5 million settlement Thursday with the university, which acknowledged that it didn’t handle the woman’s case properly.

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins and the parents of Lauren McCluskey announced the settlement at a joint news conference in Salt Lake City that came on the second anniversary of her death. The case brought new national attention to campus safety and dating-violence issues at universities, spurring several changes at the University of Utah.

McCluskey, 21 of Pullman, Washington, had contacted university police more than 20 times to report harassment by the man she had dated before she was found fatally shot in a car near on-campus student housing in October 2018.

Remembering Lauren McCluskey

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“We failed Lauren and her family,”

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Lauren McCluskey’s Parents And University Of Utah Reach Settlement In Lawsuits

On Oct. 22, 2018, Utah track and field athlete Lauren McCluskey was senselessly murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Melvin Rowland, a convicted sex offender who lied about his age and identity, tried to extort her for the sexual images she had shared with him during their time together.

While the murder and ensuing case made national news, the time the followed was nearly as difficult as the murder itself. Interesting pieces of the murder, and what led to it, detailed a flawed investigation by the University of Utah and the police department. Reports showed that both McCluskey and her mother Jill contacted the campus police as many as 10 days prior to the murder.

Now exactly two years later since that fateful day, and after Lauren’s parents had filed lawsuits against the school at the state level arguing that the University was criminally negligent, a settlement between both parties has been

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Former University of Utah officer who showed off explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey won’t face charges

A former University of Utah police officer will not face criminal charges for showing off explicit photos of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey to his co-workers.



a car parked in a parking lot: (Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Police cars sit in the parking lot of the University of Utah police department.


© Francisco Kjolseth
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Police cars sit in the parking lot of the University of Utah police department.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Thursday that his office has declined to prosecute Miguel Deras. While he believes the officer’s actions were “definitely reckless,” Gill said there is no Utah law for addressing this type of police misconduct.

“We realized there was no real statute we could use for this case,” Gill said. “We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate. But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.”

The decision was announced after the last day Gill could have filed misdemeanor charges for abusing evidence. The statute of limitations has now expired.

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