The parents of Lauren McCluskey, who was killed outside her University of Utah dorm after a month of stalking and blackmail, are suing the college for $56 million, claiming that it failed to protect their daughter.
According to CNN, McCluskey, a 21-year-old track athlete, reported “stalking, abuse, intimidation and violence and other behaviors prohibited under the federal Title IX law” to the university more than 20 times before she was reportedly shot and killed by 37-year-old Melvin Rowland, a man she’d met a month earlier who began harassing her after she ended their brief relationship.
McCluskey’s mother, Jill, says that the university hasn’t taken any steps to keep other students safe in the wake of Lauren’s murder:
“The university has taken no responsibility for Lauren’s preventable death. No one has been disciplined or held accountable in the campus police or housing. The university must pay a large amount so that they realize it is in their interest to believe women and act with urgency when their female students ask for help,” she said.
Lauren McCluskey reported the harassment to campus police numerous times before finally calling 911, which directed her back to campus police. Three days later, her stalker killed her. An investigation into the way the university handled the reports found that “University of Utah officers did not know how to look up criminal background or parole information” on Rowland, a convicted sex offender who had twice been sent back to prison for parole violations.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the University of Utah has spent $60,000 on public relations services to advise on how to answer questions about McCluskey’s death, though the numbers around how much they spent training officers on running background checks remains unclear.