Lauren McCluskey, a senior majoring in communication, was shot and killed Monday night at the University of Utah. (Photo: Steve C. Wilson, University of Utah)
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.
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.”
The university also acknowledged in the settlement that it didn’t handle McCluskey’s case properly and that her death was a “brutal, senseless and preventable tragedy.”
“We failed Lauren and her family,” University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said at a press conference Thursday. “If these employees had more complete training and protocols to guide their responses, the university believes they would have been better equipped to protect Lauren.”
McCluskey, a 21-year-old member of the school’s track team, had contacted campus police more than 20 times to report she was being harassed by 37-year-old Melvin Shawn Rowland. McCluskey had ended their relationship when she discovered he had lied about his name, age and status as a sex offender.
She was found shot dead in a car near on-campus student housing in October 2018. Rowland died by suicide after the attack as police tracked him down.
Watkins said in December 2018 that she hadn’t found anything in an initial review of the case to indicate McCluskey’s death could have been prevented. A report commissioned by the university later found officers made several missteps and failed to recognize warning signs, and it offered dozens of recommendations for improvement.
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Jill and Matt McCluskey filed a $56 million lawsuit against the university in 2019 that claimed the college was negligent in failing to protect their daughter.
As part of the settlement, the university will also name the newly launched Center for Violence Prevention after McCluskey. The school will also raise money to build an indoor track facility that will bear her name.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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