Jill McCluskey speaks at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday. Jill and Matthew McCluskey, back right, parents of Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah student and track athlete from Pullman who was fatally shot on campus, are fighting a claim by the college that their lawsuit should be dismissed because their daughter’s killer wasn’t a student. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Jill McCluskey speaks at a news conference in Salt Lake City on Monday. Jill and Matthew McCluskey, back right, parents of Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah student and track athlete from Pullman who was fatally shot on campus, are fighting a claim by the college that their lawsuit should be dismissed because their daughter’s killer wasn’t a student. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Family of slain Utah woman says school didn’t protect her

Lauren McCluskey, of Pullman, was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2018 after she dumped him.

By Brady McCombs / Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a University of Utah student and track athlete who was fatally shot on campus are fighting a claim by the college that their lawsuit should be dismissed because their daughter’s killer wasn’t a student.

Campus police could have contacted the killer’s parole officer or kept him off campus after Lauren McCluskey and her friends reported his harassment and an extortion attempt, lawyers for Jill and Matthew McCluskey argued in a court filing Monday.

The family alleges their daughter reached out to campus police more than 20 times to report concerns, which the university treated with “deliberate indifference” and minimized based on “false and invidious gender stereotypes,” the court filing states.

“The university and its employees did nothing to protect Lauren,” the attorneys wrote.

Lauren McCluskey, 21, was killed by her ex-boyfriend Melvin Shawn Rowland in 2018 after she dumped him because he’d been lying about his name, age and status as a sex offender. Rowland took his own life after the attack.

McCluskey came to Utah on a track scholarship following a standout high school career in Pullman, Washington.

The family is seeking $56 million in the negligence case filed in U.S. court. They say any money would go to a trust designed to improve campus safety.

The McCluskeys also announced that retired Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham is joining their legal team.

University lawyers argued in September that the McCluskeys don’t have grounds to sue because the killer wasn’t affiliated with the university. They claim the college didn’t have substantial control over Rowland because he wasn’t a student.

The university also disputes the claims that actions by campus staff had anything to do with McCluskey’s gender and that campus police failed to adequately train officers.

An independent review commissioned by the university found multiple missed warning signs before Lauren McCluskey was found shot in a car. However, university President Ruth Watkins has insisted there’s no reason to believe Rowland could have been stopped.

The school said earlier this year it plans to spend about $925,000 to improve safety based on recommendations from a task force that reviewed what happened to Lauren McCluskey.

The recommendations include improving building alarms, adding police patrols outside night classes and hiring a chief security officer.

Talk to us

More in Nation-World

John Lewis, lion of civil rights and Congress, dies at 80

He was best known for leading 600 protesters in the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show

NASA’s Neowise infrared space telescope discovered the comet in March.

Boeing has settled almost all Lion Air crash-death claims

The company didn’t say how much it paid the families of the people killed in the 2018 Indonesia crash.

Supreme Court: LGBT people protected from job discrimination

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Boeing, suppliers plunge on stop-and-go 737 Max comeback

An uptick in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has added to concerns that airlines face a prolonged recovery

Boeing goes another month without a single airliner order

Airlines are canceling thousands of flights while passengers remain too scared to fly.

Bellevue couple’s nightmare: Held in China, away from daughter

Chinese officials want the man’s father to return from the U.S. to face 20-year-old embezzling charges.

Airbus CEO warns workers it’s bleeding cash and needs cuts

Both Airbus and Boeing are preparing for job cuts as they gauge the depth of the downturn.

U.S. unsure it can meet deadline to disburse funds to tribes

The department hasn’t determined whether unique Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share.

As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans.”

Trump, Congress scramble to revive virus-hunting agency

In 2019 it was without a permanent leader, and in the Trump administration’s budget-slashing sights.

Virus casts a dark cloud over once-thriving home market

Shutdown orders have halted open houses, sellers are delaying listings and buyers are losing their jobs.