• 07/17/2019
  • 01:05 PM
League Online News


The family of a University of Utah student shot on campus sued the institution on Thursday, saying officials refused to take responsibility for missing chances to prevent her death despite multiple reports to police.

Lauren McCluskey's parents said they hope the suit can help protect other women at risk of dating violence on college campuses.

Track athlete McCluskey, 21, was fatally shot Oct. 22, 2018, after she broke up with her boyfriend of a month because he lied about his name, age and status as a sex offender.

University officials missed warning signs of dating violence and made no effort to end the harassment or bar the killer, Melvin Shawn Rowland, from being on campus, the lawsuit claims.

Jill McCluskey teared up at during a news conference as she recalled her daughter's efforts to reach university police.

The lawsuit alleges her daughter reached out to campus police more than 20 times to report concerns about Rowland. Her friends also reported concerns to dormitory officials, the lawsuit said.

The family is seeking $56 million in damages but say any money would go to a trust designed to improve campus safety.

University of Utah president Ruth Watkins said in a statement that college would respond to the lawsuit through the court system but expressed "deep sorrow" for McCluskey's death.  

An independent review commissioned by the university found multiple missed warning signs before she was found shot in a car, but president Ruth Watkins has insisted there's no reason to believe Rowland could have been stopped.

Rowland, 37, killed himself after gunning down McCluskey as she returned from a night class, authorities said.

The university has pledged to act on the report's findings, but authorities didn't discipline anyone.

Matthew McCluskey, the woman's father, said the university has chosen a path of "defensiveness, denial and no accountability."

McCluskey received a track scholarship following a standout high school career in Pullman, Washington. (KUTV/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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