State attorneys have requested a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of Lauren McCluskey, who was killed near her dorm at the University of Utah.
Matt and Jill McCluskey filed a $56 million lawsuit against the University of Utah last June, alleging the university didn’t take responsibility for the death of their daughter. They claimed that the university ignored their daughter’s multiple reports of stalking, abuse, intimidation, dating violence and other behavior prohibited under Title IX.
Melvin Rowland, a 37-year-old convicted sex offender, shot and killed McCluskey on Oct. 22, 2018. The two had gone out on dates until she found out that he lied about his name and age.
Once McCluskey found out who Rowland really was, she told police that he tried to blackmail her by demanding money in exchange for not distributing intimate pictures of her.
The suit accuses former detective Kayla Dallof of treating McCluskey’s claims with deliberate indifference. An example of this is when she went on vacation just days before McCluskey was killed.
The lawsuit alleges that the university discriminated against McCluskey based on stereotypes about women who report sexual harassment and assault.
State attorneys said that the university didn’t violate federal law or McCluskey’s constitutional rights in the handling of her complaints to police. They acknowledged the university and its staff members have a responsibility to do their best to ensure public safety and “deeply regret that they did not understand the danger that faced Ms. McCluskey and missed the opportunity to help her more.”
“But the issues raised by plaintiffs’ complaint and challenged in the motion to dismiss are not about job duties, moral obligations or missed opportunities, all viewed with the benefit of hindsight,” state lawyers wrote, “They are about whether plaintiffs can state legally sufficient claims under Title IX and the equal protection clause. Based on applicable federal law, plaintiffs cannot, and the claims should be dismissed.”
State attorneys argued in a separate court filing that Dallof should be dismissed from the case. They said that she took reasonable measures to protect McCluskey and nothing the detective did supports an allegation of deliberate indifference. Dallof was terminated last March, citing “complete dereliction of duty” in a separate domestic violence case on campus.