The University of Utah reached a $13.5 million settlement Thursday with the family of slain student Lauren McCluskey, admitting her death had been preventable.
“McCluskey, a 21-year-old heptathlete at Utah, was shot and killed on Oct. 22, 2018, by a man she had dated briefly, Melvin Shawn Rowland. Rowland killed himself later that night when cornered by police,” according to ESPN.
University president Ruth Watkins read a statement during a press conference at the Salt Lake City campus on Thursday.
“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation. As a result, we failed Lauren and her family,” she said.
“If these employees had more complete training and protocols to guide the responses, the university believes they would’ve been better equipped to protect Lauren,” Watkins continued.
The 21-year-old student originally from Pullman, Washington, had contacted university police officers over 20 times to report harassment by her ex-boyfriend, according to the Associated Press (AP):
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.
Lauren’s family said the money will go to the Lauren McCluskey foundation, which supports charitable work in campus safety, amateur athletics, and animal welfare, according to the foundation’s website.
“An indoor track facility will also be built and named after Lauren McCluskey as part of the settlement,” the AP report stated.
At the press conference Thursday, her mother Jill said the settlement was important for several reasons, adding, “It addresses how Lauren died, but it also honors how she lived.”