SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Student leaders criticized University of Utah administrators for how they handled concerns by a student-athlete before she was fatally shot by a man she previously dated.
The Associated Students of the University of Utah released a public statement condemning the school about a year after Lauren McCluskey, 21, was killed by a 37-year-old registered sex offender on parole, The Salt Lake Tribune reports .
McCluskey was fatally shot outside her campus dorm Oct. 22 by Melvin Rowland, who killed himself hours later, authorities said.
The fallout from her death has led to the police chief retiring, an officer quitting and the firing of a detective, authorities said. The McCluskey family also filed a $56 million lawsuit against the university for not protecting their daughter.
Students were prompted to act this week with a formal critique after the Salt Lake City-based university requested a judge dismiss the lawsuit, student government said.
“(We) are opposed to statements made by the University of Utah that have been widely interpreted as victim-blaming as part of this lawsuit,” student leaders said in a formal critique.
There were no clearly established constitutional requirements to protect its students from visitors to campus who are not under university control, university officials said.
“Nowhere in the motion does it state that the university’s ‘officers had no obligation to protect McCluskey from her attacker,’ ” said Phyllis Vetter, the university’s general counsel, in a letter sent to the student government.
Independent investigators found McCluskey had contacted campus police several times in the weeks before that to report harassment after ending their relationship Oct. 9, and many of those concerns were not taken seriously, the newspaper reported. The department also had failed to train officers on how to recognize the warning signs for escalating domestic violence.
“The university is deeply committed to improving campus safety,” Vetter said. “Mounting a legal defense against a monetary judgment cannot and should not be equated with a rejection of that responsibility.”
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com
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