SALT LAKE CITY — Eight months after a University of Utah student was murdered on campus, her parents are filing a lawsuit against the university.
Thursday morning, Jill and Matt McCluskey’s attorneys, James McConkie and Brad Parker, will be filing a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Utah, hoping to create a safer environment on campus, especially for women.
“I don’t think they really wanted to file a lawsuit,” says McConkie.
After their daughter, Lauren, was murdered on campus by an ex-boyfriend who had lied about his identity, Jill and Matt McCluskey are suing the University, but McConkie says this was the last resort. He says the McCluskey’s made multiple efforts to contact the university and work together to make changes.
“The university was not willing to lock arms and accept responsibility. On the other hand, they’ve tried to make changes which is an indication that they may have responsibility,” says McConkie.
McConkie says they settled on filing a Title IX lawsuit after realizing other avenues were limited.
“We looked at state causes of action and because states and police organizations have sweeping immunity it’s difficult to sue them. This is a lawsuit designed to encourage universities to create a safer environment, primarily for women,” says McConkie.
McConkie says this lawsuit is coming on the heels of a societal shift.
“Our society is coming to grips with the amount and extent of the violence against women,” says McConkie.
He says this suit highlights the importance of taking women seriously in these situations. In Lauren’s case, she called University police dozens of times reporting everything from blackmail to the impersonation of an office.
“It was never taken seriously. Nobody jumped on the case. The officer, for an example, who was assigned to the case, went on vacation,” says McConkie.
However, he says this lawsuit is ultimately fueled by a lack of accountability on behalf of the University of Utah administration because making changes is just as important as accepting responsibility.
“Both of those ideas are important if there’s going to be a healing process and real progress is going to be made. We can’t say we got to fix 30 things and then turn around and say it wouldn’t have made a difference,” says McConkie.
Jill and Matt McCluskey will be speaking at a news conference Thursday morning at 11am.
The University of Utah says they haven’t received the lawsuit yet and will need to review it before making any comments.