SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The parents of Lauren McCluskey – who was murdered on the University of Utah campus nearly two years ago – filed a second lawsuit against the school and state of Utah. Lauren’s mother said she hopes it brings about change.
“The second lawsuit is needed to ensure that women are taken seriously in the state when they ask for help,” said Jill McCluskey, Lauren’s mother.
McCluskey also states the first and second lawsuits aim to hold the university accountable and to take responsibility for their ‘mistakes’.
“Lawsuits are a way to bring that about,” McCluskey said. “Because if you don’t admit your mistakes, then I don’t think you can really change for the future.”
Lauren McCluskey was murdered on the University of Utah campus in October 2018 by Melvin Rowland – whom she briefly dated.
In the events leading up to the U of U student athlete’s murder, the wrongful death suit released Monday states:
“Despite having the ability and authority to take action to end the sexual harassment, Defendants failed to take any reasonable action to end the sexual harassment, thereby exposing Lauren to further sexual harassment and leaving her to be kidnapped and murdered on the University’s campus.”
“We just need to do a better job of responding and believing women and preventing these assaults from happening. And in Lauren’s case, it actually led to her murder,” Jill McCluskey said.
The lawsuit asks for $56 million, money that Jill McCluskey said will go toward the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which is meant to increase nationwide campus safety for women.
“Lauren was a believer in justice. She wanted things to be fair and she cared about people’s individual rights, but she also cared about people who needed help,” Jill McCluskey said.
The McCluskey’s continue to work toward change on college campuses and Jill McCluskey said Lauren’s Promise is something more than 25 universities across the world are implementing on their syllabi, as it addresses how a university plans to respond in a variety of situations.
“It provides resources, but it invites the students to respond,” Jill McCluskey said.
Jill McCluskey said she’s had professors from different universities reach out, saying on more than one occasion, a female student asked for help.
“You know, there are times when of course you get very sad, you know, missing her, and thinking about what happened and trying to make change actually really helps,” Jill McCluskey said. “It helps me be able to go forward and keep walking.”
As for the first lawsuit which was filed in June 2019, Jill McCluskey said meditation with the state was unsuccessful.
“We didn’t come to an agreement, but we’re open to it going forward,” Jill McCluskey said. “It’s at the state, at the stage where a judge will decide whether to dismiss it or not, and if the judge does dismiss it, then we will appeal it to the Ninth Circuit; and we’re patient and we are fighting the good fight. We want to have an impact with this.”