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State AG’s office defends request to dismiss Lauren McCluskey lawsuit

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office is defending its decision to ask a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey.

The McCluskeys are suing the University of Utah for $56 million, saying the school has not taken responsibility for Lauren’s death last year. She had reported her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, to campus police over 20 times before her murder.

Rowland took his own life shortly after police say he killed Lauren McCluskey in October 2018.

But the attorney general’s office argues federal law prevents a school from being sued if a campus police officer or other staff member fails to protect a student from someone who does not attend that school.

Their statement reads:

[Our] brief filed with the federal court explains that neither Title IX nor the U.S. Constitution permit lawsuits for money damages when campus police or staff do not prevent a student from being harmed by an intruder on campus. As the motion makes clear, the McCluskeys’ legal theories are unprecedented–no court has concluded that a school is liable under Title IX or the U.S. Constitution in these circumstances.

The attorney general’s office statement also hit back at recent suggestions from the McCluskeys’ lawyers, saying their motion “was not meant to, and did not, blame the victim, dismiss the importance of campus safety, or minimize in any way the terrible tragedy of Lauren McCluskey’s death.”

The statement also leaves open the possibility that the McCluskeys and the University of Utah could still work on a settlement if the lawsuit is dismissed.