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New investigation of McCluskey photos allegations ordered by new chief

FILE: Lauren McCluskey, a student-athlete at the University of Utah, was murdered in October 2018. Photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The University of Utah police department is ordering a new investigation into allegations of improper police handling of explicit photos of murdered student athlete Lauren McCluskey.

The decision to order an independent review comes from U of U Police Chief Rodney Chatman. He joined the department in February, meaning the initial review was conducted prior to his coming on board.

Lauren’s parents speak out

“The person who was supposed to be providing police services to Lauren, instead, was exploiting her,” said Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mother. “I wish he had used his time to arrest Lauren’s killer rather than ogling at her image.”

Her father, Matt, says it took a lot of courage for Lauren to share the evidence with the police. Now, he’s left wondering if misconduct is still happening within the campus police department.

 

“The officer’s behavior was not isolated. It stemmed from a culture that did not take women seriously,” he said.

Police Chief Gary Jensen of the Logan Police Department says he was “blindsided” by the allegations, which focus on Miguel Deras. At the time of the McCluskey case, Deras was with University of Utah police, but has since transferred to Logan. Chief Jensen is pleading with the public to allow due process while another internal investigation is conducted.

 

New chief, new investigation

“I know this announcement will come as a disappointment to many in the community,” Chatman said in a statement on Monday. “Statements by the university over the past 24 hours have leaned heavily on the results of the first internal review. However, if my police department is to regain credibility in the eyes of the community it serves this new review must be completed swiftly and with respect for both the students we serve and for Lauren McCluskey and her family.”

The University announced Tuesday that the Utah Department of Public Safety will conduct the internal investigation. Officer Deras is accused of keeping explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey on his personal cell phone.

‘Patently false’

His attorney, J.C. Jensen, says those claims are patently false and that they don’t even tell the full story.

“Law enforcement officers throughout this state use their personal cell phones for work-related matters,” he explained. “Whether it’s signing on and off shifts [or] making calls to and receiving calls from citizens.”

He went on to say the original reporting doesn’t cite specific evidence of malpractice.

“There’s no proof that those photos were saved from his department email to his phone,” said Jensen. 

You can hear the full exclusive conversation that Jensen had with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic below.