University Acknowledges Her Murder Was Preventable

University of Utah will pay Lauren McCluskey's family $13.5M
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2020 12:43 AM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2020 3:00 AM CDT
'Historic Deal' Reached in University of Utah Student's Murder
Jill and Matt McCluskey speak on the two-year anniversary of their daughter Lauren McCluskey's death at the McCarthey Family Track and Field Complex, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In what the Salt Lake Tribune is calling a "historic deal," the University of Utah is acknowledging for the first time that student Lauren McCluskey's on-campus murder was preventable. It has settled with her parents for $13.5 million, effectively ending two civil rights lawsuits that had been filed against it in state and federal court. "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," the university's president said in a statement. "As a result, we failed Lauren and her family."

That same president had said, shortly after McCluskey's Oct. 22, 2018, murder, that there wasn’t “any reason to believe this tragedy could have been prevented.” The 21-year-old track and field athlete was fatally shot outside her dorm by Melvin Rowland, 37, whom she had briefly dated. She, her mother, and her friends had repeatedly asked campus police and university housing officials for help in the weeks before her death as Rowland stalked, harassed, threatened, and extorted her, ESPN reports. He killed himself the same night as police closed in. McCluskey's parents say all the settlement funds will go to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which aims to improve campus safety as well as contributing to causes related to amateur athletics and animal welfare. (More Lauren McCluskey stories.)

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