43°F
weather icon Clear

Slain Utah student’s family receives $13.5M settlement

SALT LAKE CITY — The parents of a University of Utah track athlete who was killed by her ex-boyfriend on campus two years ago reached a $13.5 million settlement Thursday with the university, which acknowledged that it didn’t handle the woman’s case properly.

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins and the parents of Lauren McCluskey announced the settlement at a joint news conference in Salt Lake City that came on the second anniversary of her death. The case brought new national attention to campus safety and dating-violence issues at universities, spurring several changes at the University of Utah.

McCluskey, 21 of Pullman, Washington, had contacted university police more than 20 times to report harassment by the man she had dated before she was found fatally shot in a car near on-campus student housing in October 2018

“We failed Lauren and her family,” Watkins said. “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.”

That marked a shift from what Watkins said back in December 2018 when she said that she hadn’t found anything in an initial review of the case to indicate McCluskey’s death could have been prevented.

Jill and Matt McCluskey bristled at those comments and sued the university in 2019, seeking $56 million while claiming the college was negligent in failing to protect their daughter.

An independent review commissioned by the university found multiple missed warning signs before Lauren McCluskey was killed by 37-year-old Melvin Shawn Rowland after she dumped him because she discovered he had been lying about his name, age and status as a sex offender. Rowland took his own life after the attack as police tracked him down.

The university will pay the McCluskeys $10.5 million and give another $3 million to a foundation founded in their daughter’s name that is designed to improve campus safety, as well as help collegiate track athletes and animal shelters. An indoor track facility will also be built and named after Lauren McCluskey as part of the settlement.

The McCluskeys said all the money will go to the Lauren McCluskey foundation.

“This settlement is important for many reasons,” Jill McCluskey said. “It addresses how Lauren died, but it also honors how she lived.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
‘It’s a painful Thanksgiving. You don’t even know, should you celebrate?’

The family is having their traditional meal of turkey, yams, green beans and rice and beans — butVivian Zayas is removing a seat from the table at her home in Deer Park, New York, this year and putting her mother’s walker in its place as a reminder of the loss.

Some Hawaiians embrace tourist-free state during pandemic

Locals, many of whom depend on tourism jobs, have long felt ambivalence about living in an island paradise that relies heavily on visitor spending, but many saw an upshot to a health crisis that threatened their livelihoods.

Arizona halts some transfers of patients from Nevada, other states

With Arizona hospitals admitting increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, state health officials said Wednesday that they suspended some transfers of patients from other states.

 
California sees new high in coronavirus cases

California reported a record number of coronavirus cases Wednesday as Los Angeles restaurants prepared to close for three weeks.

Trump pardons former national security advisor Flynn

President Donald Trump pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, taking direct aim at the Russia probe.

Spare change tweet generates big money for COVID aid

As sportswriter Andy Larsen was sorting his spare change — some from a childhood piggy bank shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants — it struck him: Other people in Utah could use the money more than he could.

 
Biden appeals for unity in Thanksgiving address

President-elect Joe Biden appealed for unity Wednesday in a Thanksgiving-eve address to the nation asking Americans to “steel our spines” for a fight against the coronavirus that he predicted would continue for months.

Mask up: Vaccine won’t end the US crisis right away

Despite the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in just a few weeks, it could take several months — probably well into 2021 — before things get back to something close to normal in the U.S. and Americans can once again go to the movies, cheer at an NBA game or give Grandma a hug.